Today’s Readings: Psalms 90; Amos 5:18-27; Matthew 22:15-22; Jude 17-25
Some folks probably wonder why it is that I feel so compelled to speak as truthfully as possible at most times and name the so-called “elephants in the room”. If they were to ask me that question to my face, I would say, “It’s because there is a long established tradition of such an approach in our faith that encourages me to do so.”
If you look back to the times of the prophets, for instance, they made a point of speaking God’s truth as it had been revealed to them. Today’s passage from Amos is a great example of this. In this passage the prophet points out a painful reality about how their spiritual lives have degenerated to the point where even their rituals and traditions are empty.
“I can’t stand your religious meetings. I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religious projects, your pretentious slogans and goals. I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations and image making” (Amos 5:21-22 from The Message). Ouch!
So what might those words say to us in the context of our daily lives these days? Well, it just so happens that we are in the midst of a season in the church called Advent: a season designed to prepare our hearts for Christmas. This is a season that is full of traditions and rituals – both in our private lives and in the church. These traditions take many forms in our private lives: when to put up the Christmas tree, who gets to put the star on the top of the tree, when to send out the cards, where to eat Christmas dinner, etc.
Today’s passage from Amos challenges us to look at how we are engaged in those seasonal rituals and ask ourselves, “Am I participating in these traditions and rituals in such a way that they are life-giving and drawing me closer to God; or am I simply going through the motions and doing what’s expected of me – trying to simply survive the holidays?
If you find that you are simply going through the motions, it might be time to let go of those empty rituals and traditions. Til next time…