Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Second Wednesday of Advent

Hear this, you that trample
         on the needy,
    and bring to ruin the poor
         of the land,
saying, "When will the new
         moon be over
    so that we may sell grain;
and the sabbath,
    so that we may offer wheat
         for sale?
We will make the ephah
         small and the shekel
    and practice deceit with
         false balances,
buying the poor for silver
    and the needy for a pair of
    and selling the sweepings
         of the wheat."
The LORD has sworn by the
         pride of Jacob;
Surely I will neve forget
         any of their deeds.
           Amos 8:4-7

Pretty harsh words, aren't they?  They are harsh, because they are true.  They are harsh, because when the prophet speaks of 'their deeds,' he's talking about us.  We see the ads on TV for the diamond encrusted gift, and don't think about at what human cost they are mined.  We look at the gold jewelry in the slick flyers, and never wonder about the little children who go into dangerous, unregulated places to get the gold out of the ground.  We want the newest, fastest, fanciest technologies and don't want to be told of the depleted resources which are used to make our lives so fast, so fancy.  They are harsh words directed at people who are not so much evil, as we are uncaring.  We are more concerned about our wants, our needs, our desire for the latest thing, without taking notice as to who we may trample, or bring to ruin, or simply ignore.

But if it is clear in scripture that God has a long memory when it comes to the foolish choices we make (because we think it is all about us), it is equally clear that God has a longer memory when it comes to those wise practices we can learn, when it comes to those willful decisions we can make, when it comes to reaching down and picking someone up rather than trampling them when they are down.  Yes, we are told over and over, Advent is the season of anticipation and expectation, but it is also a season of action as well, especially as God anticipates that we will finally catch on to what is expected of us.

And it's really so simple, these decisions, these wise practices which can cause God such joy, and bring others such hope.  What would it be like
if for every dollar we spent on gifts, we gave another dollar away;
if we gave children, simple long-lasting gifts and made donations in the names of adults;
if we paid for a meal for a family through a social service agency,
   while we are planning our big family feast;
if we gave away all those warm coats/scarves/gloves just hanging in the back of our closets.
if . . .

(c) 2011 Thom M. Shuman

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