Read Amos 8:4-12.
There’s a lot of human talk that isn’t the word of God. In Amos’s time, people talked about extending the market week, encroaching on holy days with buying and selling. They talked about “making the ephah smaller and enlarging the shekel”— charging more for a scanter serving of wheat — even as people starved. People spoke lightly about exploiting the vulnerable.
God’s word rises strongly against this kind of talk. Amos’s prophecy sounds like a curse. God would not forget the people’s exploitation of their neighbors. God would cause the land to tremble, the skies to darken, and the people’s joy to evaporate. Even worse, God promised a famine, and one of a particularly devastating kind: “neither a hunger for bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the LORD’s words.” It’s not a good idea to talk over God; God might leave the conversation. And when God is silent — we are lost. The question ceases to be, “Are we there yet?” Without God, it’s “Where on earth are we?”
This scripture is sobering — even a little scary. What does it have to teach us? To me, it’s a reminder that justice is not secondary to my faith. It’s less about shekels and ephahs now, but compassion, fairness, and respect still matter deeply and ultimately to God. So should they matter to us, and be reflected not only in our words, but in our actions. How do we show up for justice? This is a question worth living today.
Just and merciful God, today may we not only hear your word, but find ways to act on it in love. Amen.
Rev. Claire Berry