Is not the day of the Lord darkness, not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?
Reflection by Matthew Alexander
Oh boy…do you miss the stories of Christmas yet? After reading this verse, I can’t help but letting my thoughts drift back to the joy of Christmas morning; the presents, the brunch, the happiness of the day. Where did the stories of peace, hope, joy and love go? And what about the songs of good tidings and peace on earth and the manger filled with the excitement of a new child? As with most things, the celebration can only last for so long before its time to once again go back to work.
Amos, a shepherd by trade, brings us to a different place in our journey of faith. His audience of Israel was once on the other side of great economic wealth and growth for the country. With their wealth, they fattened themselves and expanded their riches under the reign of Jeroboam. They enjoyed the good life. That good life, however, cause them to go blind and forget about who they were. The political elite have become arrogant and greedy, continuing to seek ways to expand their wealth. As a result, the time of growth turned into decline and recession as they forgot about the people they were serving. The people of Israel are now suffering.
The LORD, as Amos reminds them, blessed them with so much but because they were not faithful with their blessings, they are facing hardship and struggle. Amos proclaims to them that those who have been rich and fat and have done nothing to bring justice, righteousness and mercy to the poor and weak have caused great suffering. Because they have ignored the cry of the weak and poor, the day of the LORD will not come to them as a moment of light and hope but rather a time of darkness and gloom.
Those of us who sit in places of privilege should take heed to this warning. If we are not using our gifts, and talents, and our blessings and our life to bring justice so that it will “roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (5:24), then the gift of light that Christ brought into this world will not be for us. Instead, we will see the day of the LORD as darkness and gloom as all that we have worked for will be taken away. Those who seek justice and love mercy will see the light of the LORD.
Like I said, I miss the joy of Christmas but these words from Amos do remind us of the task at hand as we realize the presence of Christ in this world. We are called, as followers of Christ, to use our time and resources to bring justice and righteousness to a broken world. Only when we follow this call, the true light of Christ will be seen.
Thank you, Righteous God, for the blessings You have given to us. We are fat, rich and privileged because of these blessings. Show us now how to use these blessings so that justice will roll down like waters and righteousness flow like a stream. We pray this so that in Your day we may know the light. Amen.