Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Good Company

(Read Amos 8:1-14; Matthew 23:1-12)

Ever notice how the prophets are never included in Christmas pageants? Oh, there might be a quote or two from Isaiah, but no one plays Amos, or Hosea, or any of the other folks who seem to take glee from holding our feet to the fire built from God's incendiary words.

It's not surprising. Who wants to spend any time with someone who is going to remind us - in this season of gifting and receiving, of parties and feasting - that there are those who, exploited by the world, keep down the costs of our gifts, our food, our travels? Who wants to invite a party-pooper like Amos to our Christmas dinner, if he is going to show up wearing sackcloth and a gloomy face?

We'd rather be with Jesus during this holy season. Jesus, sweet little baby boy; Jesus, meek and mild; Jesus, soft, cuddly, and who can be put down for a nap when the party really begins to crank up. After all, he is just this baby who depends on us for food, for warmth, for comfort. He may be the reason for the season, but we are the reasonable adults in charge of the season,
aren't we?

Unfortunately, when Jesus grows up, it becomes pretty clear that he has been spending time with folks like Amos, more time than is probably good for anyone. That's where he gets such outrageous ideas that people want to put on religion like a pair of pants, trying on different sizes until they find what fits their lifestyle. That's why he can see the kind of hypocrisy evidenced by those who talk a good game of faith, but are usually still sitting on the bench when the whistle blows. That's how he came to realize that in God's great scheme, things are usually turned upside down, until we get it right.

If we are going to go down the road to Bethlehem, we do indeed need to spend some time with Jesus. But, if we are going to reach the end of our journey, we need to keep Amos and all the other prophets at our side, so we know exactly how we are to live when we get there.

Prayer: With words we really don't want to hear, with jabs of justice we really do need, you send the prophets to us, Teacher of our souls. As much as we would like to leave them behind, help us to take their hands as they journey with us to Bethlehem. Amen.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

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