I spent most of the day after Hurricane Katrina checking on members,
especially older ones, in and around Clinton, Mississippi, where I
live. Clinton did not sustain serious damage, but we lost all power and
lots of trees and roofs, and there was a palpable sense of fear and
Amos was one prophet who knew how to afflict the comfortable. He seemed to have it in for those who had done all right for themselves. His theological motto could well have been: If it feels good, God doesn’t like it! Amos skips from warning to judgment to condemnation with a kind of zealous glee. Thus says the Lord, “You’re all going to Sheeeoooool!” What a downer.
Next to the window in my study, where I can’t but see it every day, there’s a framed cartoon from an old edition of the National Lampoon. It’s a spoof of a Medici rose window from the cathedral in Florence, and depicts a laughing camel leaping with ease through the eye of a needle. The superscription reads: “a recurring motif in works commissioned by the wealthier patrons of Renaissance religious art,” while the Latin inscription on the window itself is “Dives Vincet,”or “Wealth Wins!”
This preacher was grateful for the lectionary during September. I often argue with the choices of texts for particular Sundays. But when the events of September 11 replaced all other agendas, including my carefully planned preaching topics, I turned to the lectionary with gratitude.
The deacons of a well-off parish announced that they would give grocery vouchers to strangers who dropped by the church office. The vouchers could be used for food, but were "not valid for alcohol, lottery tickets or tobacco." The congregation was thrilled. Cash handouts were making them uncomfortable.