Read Amos 8:4-12.

Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30″

One of the aspects of Advent and Christmas we often forget is how God’s birth and reign turned the world on its head.  We want to think of Christ as bringing love and happiness which he certainly does.  But Advent is also a time of repentance, a time to consider the ways in which we have not acted in holy and just ways.  In passages like the Magnificat, we hear that the hungry will be filled and the rich sent away empty (Luke 1: 53).  At this time of year, we also hear words from the prophets who warn us what will happen if we refuse to take care of the poor.

Amos warns us what will happen if we “trample on the needy” (v. 4).

Our harvest will not be plentiful and we will all go bald (hey, it’s in v.10) if we take advantage of the poor.  These prophecies and warnings are reminders that there are consequences for our actions.  Our faith is lived out in what we do and we are called to live in love, not greed.  As easy as it is to give at this time of year to the Christmas Angel, Salvation Army, and other charities, it can also be easy to ignore the reality of poverty all year-long.  It is all too easy for us to shut our doors in our warm homes and look at our beautifully decorated trees, enjoying our hot cocoa and say,  “wow, isn’t this great?”

During Advent, we are also waiting on the second coming of Christ, when God will fulfill the promise to make the world right and reign forever.  In that new order, we will have no oppression, sadness, or hungry people.  All will be good and we will experience God’s fullness.

There are many things to consider in response to the warnings from the prophets.

-What is God warning us about today?

-How are we living out the gospel and preparing for Christ to come again?

-What systems of oppression are you participating in and how can you find ways to change the tide?