The lectionary text for this past Sunday included a reading from the book attributed to the minor prophet, Amos. I have to admit, I've not spent a lot of time with the last several books of the Old Testament...something that, I'm sure, disappoints my college Bible professors. That said, I was captivated by a couple of verses from the 7th chapter:
14Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, 15and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’
A while back, I wrote a blog post about how we are called to "Be John". If The Baptizer is our New Testament role model, allow me to suggest that Amos is our Old Testament fella. Here's a man who doesn't appear to have any aspirations beyond taking care of trees and sheep. In other words, he's a man who is just trying to faithfully live out his vocation. When God comes calling, he doesn't put on airs or pretend he's suddenly become more important than those around him. He simply does what the Lord asks, forsaking the familiarity of what he has known his entire life.
Here's what George W. Coats had to say about Amos in a 1969 commentary:
Amos, a book of the Old Testament, is the third book of the Minor Prophets. It takes its name from the prophet Amos who lived c. 750 BC as a shepherd at Tekoa in the southern kingdom of Judah. It was to the northern kingdom of Israel, however, that his prophetic message was addressed. Writing during a time of prosperity, when a sharp contrast existed between the luxurious life of the nation's leaders and the oppression of the poor, Amos preached the urgency of social justice and the threat of impending divine judgment.
I'm hoping to encounter a 21st century version of Amos this week as I travel with a group of youth and adults to Voice of Calvary Ministries in Jackson, MS and the ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans, LA. The overarching theme of our trip is "Wealth and Poverty". My prayer is that our 23 youth and adults will be confronted with the chasm between the poor and wealthy in our world. I pray we will come to realize that the people our suburban Midwest group are almost always found among the rich and comfortable; whereas God is almost always found among the poor and oppressed.
Who will be our Amos this week?