We can’t meet face-to-face right now, but we can share and encourage one another electronically. In our “Member Meditations” posts, people share their favorite scripture passages and why they speak to them in this uncertain time.
A Member Meditation from Sandy Barnard – Reflection on Amos 5:1-17 (A Lament and Call To Repentance)
Israel is fallen, never to rise again, deserted in her own land, with no one coming to lift her up.
Thus begins the lament in Amos Chapter 5, a prophecy of the destruction that will befall Israel. He pleads for the subjects of Israel to seek good, hate evil, and maintain justice but, importantly, these pleadings are not transactional. You should not seek good and hate evil because doing so will save the fate of the land. All people must seek good, hate evil, and maintain justice, and Israel is fallen. Seek good because it is good, not because it will save you.
Protests have erupted in all 50 states following the brutal murder of George Floyd. Police officers are attacking protesters with tear gas (a chemical weapon banned by the UN for use in war), rubber bullets (lethal when shot point-blank) and with live bullets in Brooklyn. Even those not physically attacked have their lives in danger — according to the National Lawyers Guild over 1,000 people were taken into police custody Saturday evening, even though jails are hotbeds for COVID-19. A very small minority of the American population — police officers and those who enable them — have declared war on the rest of us.
America has fallen. And who might lift us up? If we were a Middle Eastern country, or a South American country with a socialist president, America would have invaded by now. But we are the imperial superpower. No one is coming. Amos 5:18 reads “woe to you who long for the Day of the Lord! Why do you long for the Day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light.” Other countries are not coming to save us, and the Day of the Lord will be a day of reckoning for how we treat the poor, the downtrodden, the black community. We should hope that the Day of the Lord is not coming soon, for he would not be pleased with us.
But Amos 5 is not just a lament, or an admonishing. It is a call to repent. Seek good, hate evil, maintain justice (note: my translation says to “maintain justice in the courts.” The acquittal or non-indictment of countless murderous police officers should teach us that the courts are not necessarily the place of justice. We should maintain it regardless). The protests on the streets of Chicago and every other city in America are a joyous act of love. There is dancing in the streets of Oakland to protest the curfew, seeking out the good we can produce when we are together. Minneapolis’ 3rd precinct, the workplace of those who murdered George Floyd, was burned to the ground because we hate evil. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez has called for the defunding of the Chicago Police Department, and returning that money to schools, social services, and affordable housing, in a valiant effort to establish justice.
None of those things will bring back our murdered brother in Christ. None of these things will lift up America. But we have to do them anyways.