Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes – they that trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth, and turn aside the way of the afflicted.” Amos 2:6
During Holy Week each year we clergy-types encourage our folks to come to church as often as they can, for to leave church at the end of Palm Sunday and not return again until Easter Day is to skip over the darkness of the passion and the difficult story it tells. For many of us, this Holy Week journey is a critical part of our Christian spirituality, and an indispensable part of our lives.
In paying new attention to the readings of the daily office this year, I notice that we spend a great deal of time with the prophet Amos. Our close daily reading of the Prophet in Advent reminds me of the intensity and depth of the journey of Holy Week.
In taking real time to sit with how we have failed to build the world that God intended, I think we practice a unique kind of awareness. In fact, I don’t think we can seriously move beyond our sins until we’ve spent this kind of quality time with the prophets. Before we can heal, we have to grieve. Before we can grieve, we have to confront our self-centeredness. We have to take some responsibility.
Our Sunday celebrations in Advent help us to hold on to that focus, especially in the midst of a world that, in a thousand ways, tells us not to look in the direction that Amos points. The daily readings of the season take us even further down that path, towards a place of deeper awareness amid the ruins of the world we have created.