Amos and Advent

My Advent Bible reading has me in Book of the Prophet Amos. Amos is the author of such gems as:

For four crimes I won't hold back punishment: they have sold the innocent for silver and those in need for a pair of sandals; they crush the head of the poor; and push the afflicted out of the way (Amos 2:6-7).
Hear this, you Cows of Bashan (i.e. rich, upperclass women), who cheat the weak and crush the needy—the days are coming when they will take you away with hooks (Amos 4:1-2).
I hate, I reject your festivals; I don't enjoy your joyous assemblies. Take away the noise of your songs; I won't listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:22-23).

As you can imagine, Amos was not particularly popular with the religious, upper-class, or government authorities of his day. The chief religious professional of Amos' day told the king, "Amos is conducting seditious meetings against you in the midst of house of Israel. The nation can't bear his words! He'll start a mob!" (Amos 7:10, 16).

In other words, a prophet decrying injustice (economic, class, and ethnic) was seen as unpatriotic. Telling the truth about the oppression caused by the Powers was seen as unnecessarily divisive. "Don't go getting people all fussed up."

I wonder if this ever happens today?

Why is this in my Advent reading plan? Because Advent isn't about keeping the status quo. It's not about making the rich and powerful feel cozy and comfy. Rather, it's about—in the words of the prophet Mary—bringing rulers down from their thrones; sending the rich away empty; scattering the proud (Luke 1). The arrival of Jesus (God in the flesh) was going to mess everything up for those who oppress, crush, and cheat. Hallelujah.

So, the next time someone accuses you of being divisive and seditious against the Oppressor—you just might be getting in the spirit of Advent.

Anthony Parrott

Anthony Parrott

Washington, DC