I’m sharing this sermon preached at Joy Mennonite Church on October 13, 2013. I’m proud to say that I found ways to mention Private Manning and Edward Snowden in this message.

Sermon on Amos 5 and the challenge of sustainable activism (Audio Download – AAC Format)

Sermon on Amos 5 and the challenge of sustainable activism (PDF Download)

Here are two excerpts from the message…

Amos 5 has three key themes. The first theme is that Israel is condemned because it has failed to live up to the community standards of social justice (as articulated by the Torah). As discussed earlier, Amos 5 (particularly in its third pericope) speaks clearly and specifically about the social sins of Israel. These sins are not abstract in nature but rather are grounded in the basic shema principles22 that were supposed to undergird the covenant relationship of the children of Israel with each other and with God.
The second theme is that the LORD will bring destruction to Israel for its failure to practice justice. This coming destruction is both and horrible. There is hope that God might be gracious to a remnant23 but the time is long past for God to show mercy on the nation as a whole. The horrors of captivity are near.24

The final theme of the chapter is that the LORD hates rituals and sacrifice that are divorced from righteous living; it is better for the nation to neglect the rituals (as Amos said the nation did during its wilderness wanderings) than to neglect basic justice to the poor.

Excerpt #2…

1. How are we treating radical truthtellers and whistleblowers? Are we prosecuting those who tell us painful truth or are we listening to them? Why is Private Manning in prison? And why is Edward Snowden in exile?
2. How are we treating the poor? Are they receiving fare wages for their labor? Do they have access to basic health services? Are the schools in poor neighborhoods as good as those in rich neighborhoods? These are all questions we must ask.
3. What about justice system? How are people treated? Is it fair? Do poor people get the same access to legal services that rich people and corporations get?