This is what the Lord GOD showed me–a basket of summer fruit. He said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the LORD said to me, The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again pass them by. The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day,” says the Lord GOD; “the dead bodies shall be many, cast out in every place. Be silent!” ~ Amos 8:1-3, NRSV (from this week’s RCL lections)
Preachers, the basket of summer fruit presented to us in the Northern Hemisphere is strange indeed. In Amos, God offers the kind of promise we do not want to hear: the collective bad actions of the nation will result in feasts turned to mourning and songs to lamentations. Many nations are in turmoil today, with concerns including a coup attempt in Turkey as I write this, and the continuing aftermath of the Brexit vote in the U.K. In the United States we anticipating potentially contentious political conventions at a time of great racial tension.
I have always liked to think that such moments in Hebrew scripture represented a backward glance, a desire to explain times of hardship suffered in the past, but more and more I am convinced that calls to prophecy, or at the very least, honesty, are real and just as timely now as they were for Amos.
For there is hope for a tree,
if it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
and that its shoots will not cease.
Though its root grows old in the earth,
and its stump dies in the ground,
yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth branches like a young plant. ~ Job 14:7-9, NRSV (from this week’s Narrative Lectionary)
Job goes on to point out that human beings are different. Once cut down, they are gone. This is poignantly, heartbreakingly in focus both in the events of last week in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas, and in the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France.
How are you approaching the pulpit this week, preachers? I commend to you Wil Gafney’s words on #what2preach from last week for a progression that can be undertaken no matter the text or the circumstances. I also suggest taking a look at Rachel Hackenberg’s RCL post from this week, Whiteness in Scripture (with a great angle on Mary and Martha), and Marci Glass’s NL post, Hope for a Tree.
I wonder if those of us who may be afraid to address real world events from the pulpit, for whatever our reasons, might not start from that exact place? It’s time to talk about things we have avoided.
Join us in the comments to let us know where you are, and where you hope to be by the time worship begins. As always, we are in this together: come through, come through!