At the beginning of this chapter, one finds a poetic recount of a nation feasting comfortably on profits exploited from their most vulnerable citizens. Though Amos’ language uses a feminine form to describe the oppressors we acknowledge that he is speaking to a broader audience. His words are for all people that separate themselves from those suffering under the weight of oppression. A people cannot be whole if one person is broken by the system that supports the people.
The interconnectedness of human beings creates opportunities for joy in the crevices of life. Reminders of this truth can be found with each video of a family reuniting or children excited to see their best friends after months of separation. Hearts are touched even at startling moments when laughter permeates ears unexpectedly or nature startles with beauty beyond the imagination. There are unseen fibers binding people together throughout the world.
The fabric of humanity does not find its end at pleasure; however, it rounds the edge of pain gripping tightly to the bodies of all beings. This is exemplified when Amos reminds the reader that some fields received rain while others continued to be dry forcing populations to migrate in search of places to quench their thirst and hunger. Whether someone was food-and-water-insecure or in a town receiving climate refugees, the impact could be felt on a personal level. Each individual was affected by those hurting the most. The same hearts that are often open to share joy, were closed to carry the burden of pain that bound their neighbors.
We are also asked to examine our connections to humanity. Those who hunger, who are unable to safely quench their thirst, who have no safety in their body, the poor and the needy, occupy space in our congregations, schools, and communities. Some are reading this devotional. Let us all be mindful that there is no separation between the oppression of one person and the community. Together we can move forward crafting a culture that honors each person in the fullness of their humanity. God has always loved us; may we always love one another.
Minister Kathlene Judd is Theologian-in-Residence at Prince of Peace, Greensboro. She’s an avid urban gardner, reader, and poet who dreams of a world beyond her wildest imagination.
1. How can I advocate, organize, and/or meet the needs of the most vulnerable in my community?
2. Has God created paths for me to do that work already? If so, what's stopping me?
Creator of the universe, thank you for gently caring for us even when we don’t care for others. Gird us with courage to step out in action against the evils of oppression harming people as well nature. Help us to love our siblings in thought, word, and deed. In the name of the Redeemer, we pray. Amen.