Saturday, December 5, 2009

Saturday in Advent 1

Amos 5:18-27
v. 24 But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

This verse is one of the quintessential "justice verses" of the Hebrew Scriptures, all of which make clear that the God of Israel is primarily committed to justice. He wants this justice even more than he wants our worship, which he has condemned in the previous three verses, beginning with, "I hate, I despise your festivals..."

We who love our worship and are in many ways very proud of it need to take pause here. It is obviously not worship by itself which is important to God, but worship that comes out of something and leads to something. And that something is justice.

What exactly is this justice of which God speaks through his prophet Amos? It is what it has always been, the ethical behavior outlined in the 10 Commandments and what we call "the Summary of the Law" (you shall love the Lord your God...and your neighbor as yourself). We express it also in our Baptismal Covenant primarily in the last two questions: Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being? With God's help we do these things and justice rolls down like waters.

Justice is a twenty four-seven activity. It is a matter of my relationships at home, the decisions I make in establishing and running my household, the way I conduct myself in the work place or where I volunteer, how I vote and otherwise participate in the political process, how I treat the ones Jesus called "the least of these who are members of my family." The demand of justice is always present, but, then, so is God's help.

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