My sermon the Sunday after the election ….
Watch it here.
TEXT: Amos 5:18-24
TITLE: “Let Justice Roll”
THESIS: Do justice for the day of the Lord to come.
- In the 1970s, I got caught up in end-times prophecy – promises of a rapture. – Studied all the biblical texts and books. …. In those circles today, people are waiting for “the day of the Lord,” which they consider to be the rapture of believers followed by worldwide judgment and disaster.
· The prophet Amos warns those who long for the day of the Lord! He says it will not be what they expect – darkness, not light.
· And he tells the people what God desires – and what God wants to see come on the whole earth – justice rolling on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.
· The people were confident that God was on their side against what they saw as the “injustices” of the world. They saw the world as getting worse all the time, and they longed for God to come and rescue them (rapture them) and bring judgment against their enemies. That’s the day of the Lord they longed for and waited for.
· Amos, though, questioned whether God really was on their side. The judgments they longed for against their enemies? Amos said God would judge them. … A day of darkness, pitch-dark without a ray of brightness. … As though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house (where he would be safe) only to have a poisonous snake bite him.
· Then Amos “got personal.” He “went to meddling.” – I despise your religious festivals. Your gatherings are a stench. Your offerings are not acceptable. Your music and songs are just noise! – Why? … Because their hearts were not right with God. They were just “going through the motions” of religion, pretending everything was good and that God would protect and save them. They were not committed to living as God wanted, to doing justice and righteousness.
· This is what God really wanted – and the implication is they were not doing it: “Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!
· These 2,800-year-old words still speak to us today. Why? Because they too often still describe God’s people. … People have not been leaving the churches because they don’t care about God or living right. They’re often leaving because they do care and see too much judgment and condemnation in the churches. They have been leaving because they’re not convinced that people in the churches really care about what God desires – about justice and righteousness.
· Here are two questions for us to answer – the people who are in the churches of America:
o Do our gatherings, songs, and offerings lead to living out what is true, morally right, and just – not only in our eyes, but in the eyes of the world and of God?
o Do our actions lead to justice and equity for the poor, for people of color, for diverse groups of people, and for people who do not live up to our cultural expectations?
· Some races have not yet been decided in this election, and the people who have been elected may not be the ones we voted for. … What happens now? What will we do? What would we do if people we voted for won the election? … The answer should be the same.
· Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! Do what is right and work for justice. Come to church and let God change us and empower us to go out every day and do what is righteous and just for everyone. – For the poor and oppressed, for people of diverse colors and cultures, for people who are different from us and who do not follow our traditional, cultural expectations.
· God is on our side when we are on God’s side. – When we go beyond cultural religion and traditions and live into God’s desires for the world – when we pursue justice for all people as God does – then the day of the Lord becomes a reality today. … Jesus said he came to to proclaim good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor – that is, that the day of the Lord has come!
· “Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!