From the Pastor's Desk

       How Do We Love Thee, God?
Our “Pastor’s Bible Study” group is currently studying the “Minor Prophets” – those books of proph-esy at the end of the Old Testament. In our study of the book of Amos, we are learning about God’s words for the tribes of the Northern Kingdom, usually called “Israel.” (In about 930 BCE, the Kingdom of Israel split into two parts – the southern part was called “Judah” and included Jerusalem, while the northern part was called “Israel” and included Shechem and Samaria).
In our study this week, Amos 8, we learned once again about how the people of Israel had turned away from God, even to the point of observing the Sabbath by waiting impatiently for it to be over so they could make more money, and then cheating the people who came to sell and buy items in the marketplace. In response to their sin and selfishness, their desire to get wealthy, no matter who had to pay the price, God proclaimed a drought – of sorts. Instead of the absence of food and wa-ter, the drought God proclaimed was a spiritual drought – that God, and God’s words, would not be present in Israel any more. No matter where the people looked, they would not find God, and as a result, they would perish. A few would be left, but they would experience loss and sorrow … our assumption that those who were left were the ones who kept the spirit of the law as well as the letter … the ones who did not participate in the sinfulness, but kept their heads down and made their worship in private.
This story got us to wondering, what about us? Are we doing what God would have us do? Are we keeping the “law” (keeping the Sabbath, worshipping God and only God, living the way Jesus showed us to live, treating others the way we want to be treated, and loving God, our neighbors and ourselves)? Are we keeping it by the letter, or by the spirit?
In other words, do we attend church and make our offerings because we are supposed to or because we want to? When we give, do we give because we have to or because we want to?
Here’s the real question: do we live generously, sacrificially, when we’re not around church or church people?
Another question would be, when we see someone not living into the spirit of the love of God, do we speak up? When we see something happening (at church or in the community) that simply isn’t just, isn’t right in the eyes of God, do we do something about it, or do we simply “not participate” and pat ourselves on the back that at least we aren’t doing that?
Does our worship of God, our faith in God, lead us to actively seek out injustice in order to address it, to change the systems that create it? Does our worship, our faith in God, lead us to speak up when we see something that is not right according to the scripture?
Sometimes, I wonder (and this is just me, not the group) … I wonder if the reason our country is on this cuckoo spiral to who-knows-where is because the body of Christ has not stood for the cause of justice … or, to phrase it another way, for “liberty and justice for all.” I watch the news and think to myself, “I know that I don’t do that, I don’t think that, I am not like that.” Is it possible that I am keeping my head down and going through the motions, trusting in God but unwilling to challenge the powers? Is it possible that I am doing exactly what the people of Israel were doing way back then? Are you?
We need to come before God and confess our sin – either commission or omission … and then turn and shine God’s light into this dark and hurting world.

 

See you in church!
Pastor Sharon