Alas for those who are at ease in Zion,
and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
the notables of the first of the nations,
to whom the house of Israel resorts!
Cross over to Calneh, and see;
from there go to Hamath the great;
then go down to Gath of the Philistines.
Are you better than these kingdoms?
Or is your territory greater than their territory,
O you that put far away the evil day,
and bring near a reign of violence?
Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory,
and lounge on their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock,
and calves from the stall;
who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp,
and like David improvise on instruments of music;
who drink wine from bowls,
and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile,
and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.
The Lord God has sworn by himself
(says the Lord, the God of hosts):
I abhor the pride of Jacob
and hate his strongholds;
and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it.
O dear. This is not a fun passage. Especially for me.
As I'm writing this devotional, I'm doing so on my $1,500 MacBook Pro, sitting and watching a football game on my 42 inch 1080i HDTV with a bourbon and ginger-ale by my side in my climate-controlled house that is keeping the cold November air at bay. I've had three warm meals today and I have the pleasure of enjoying my day off because I have a steady job that allows me to do so. Alas for those who are at ease, indeed.
Well, this is awkward.
I must admit, I have my days when I'm quite comfortable with this existence. Now, don't get me wrong, I do not consider myself rich; mine and my wife's more than $100,000 in student debt reminds me of that quite frequently. However, when compared to the standards of the rest of the world, I am quite wealthy even when taking that into account.
Today's passage from Amos does not vilify those who have much; it vilifies those who have much and are comfortable with it and do not share it. Today's passage from Amos tells us that God is not happy when a few people have much and many people have little. In concert with previous passages from Isaiah, Amos reminds us that God comes to make the mountains flat and the parched lands flowing with water. God comes to bring everyone, literally, on an equal playing field where all have access to the grace that has given us birth.
So, how comfortable am I? What do I take for granted? What am I not sharing with others? All these are valuable questions that the inconvenient but prophetic voice of Amos asks of you and me during this Advent season.
Prayer of the Day:
thank you for the many blessings in my life that I do not deserve.
Give me the courage to share with others that they might, too, enjoy the peace I have in you.
Help me to not take for granted the many reasons I have to be thankful.
Grant me the wisdom to give of myself and my belongings. Amen.