FOR TODAY Read this scripture from Amos 5:21-24. I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. The prophet Amos relays a harsh critique to a people who have disappointed God with the pretense of piety. He ends this passage with these famous words: “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." So often in the Hebrew Scriptures, God says to the Israelites, “I reject your worship because of your lack of justice.” However, we never hear God say, “I reject your justice because of your lack of worship.” This strikes at the heart of our own tendency to think that good and orderly worship is pleasing to God more so than acknowledging and striving to meet the needs of the community around us. It is not an either/or with God but a both/and. In the reformations of the sixteenth century, many leaders of the time attempted to identify “adiaphora," a word that refers to non-essential elements to our commitment to be the Body of Christ. As you might imagine, the opinions differed greatly and thus many new ideas were born as a result of such debates. We are still a fractured Church over many issues. If our hearts are to be moved to a more just relationship in unity, especially in our revival, then we commit ourselves to the hard work of naming what is absolutely just, honorable and good along with those efforts that have fallen short or remain almost-but-not-yet. Going all the way back to St. Augustine and to modern day writers and theologians, there is enduring insistence on this "just" action: the church must always be reformed. FOR FURTHER REFLECTION What would the dream of justice rolling down like waters look like in your community? What specific elements, what essentials need to be in place for that justice to flow and flourish? How can you be a part of a reforming effort in your community or this diocese?
Focusing on the word "just" may strike many as an odd theme in our journey to revival; but, this week and subsequent ones will move us more directly towards the theme of our revival: Just Mercy, Just Jesus. We have heard the prophets of old and of our current time speak of a longing for a "just" society. In that sense, we long for what is right and good and lawful. At other times, we use the word "just" to reduce something to the basics, to what is essential, or to be dismissive. As we move through this week, a key aspect of being prepared and moved by a revival is getting in touch of the essentials in our relationship with God and with others. Find all previous daily devotionals here