Readings and stuff for Sunday (Sep 26)
Sorry this is later than usual. I had a minor glitch with my computer, but Luann fixed it up right away so I'm back in business.
We have a baptism this Sunday: little Cameron will be baptized. I'll ask the children at the 9:00 service to come up and help me with the baptism, and then we'll sing him a song.
This Sunday's readings generally follow the wonderful definition of power offered in the Collect for the Day: "O God, you declare your power chiefly in showing mercy and pity:…"
Usually when we hear the word "power", we use words like "strength", "might", "influence", "ability", "capacity", "force" (and so on) to describe what we mean. But when the Bible talks about God's power, it often uses words like "mercy", "pity", "grace", "promise" (and so on).
When the Prophet Amos speaks about those in Zion (that's Israel, the Northern Kingdom of the Jews) who "feel secure", and "lie in beds of ivory", and "sing idle songs", it sounds like our ears that he's describing the rich and powerful members of that society – as indeed he is. But Amos is also telling us something about the real nature of what it means to be "powerful". All the outward signs and trappings of power and security will fall away when tested by the near-by Kingdom of Assyria. The Assyrians were in a conquering mood, and they had Israel in their sights.
Amos warns that the those very people who think themselves so rich, secure and safe from calamity are actually weak beyond measure, because "they have not grieved over the ruin of Joseph." That's a sort of "Bible code" which refers to the Joseph Cycle in the Book of Genesis.
Joseph was the youngest son of Jacob, and Jacob loved him and doted on him. His older brothers were so enraged with jealousy that they threw Joseph into a pit to die. A passing caravan drew Joseph out of the pit (one of the definitions for the Hebrew word for "to draw out" is "to resurrect") and saved him. Ever since, when ever Jews failed to be concerned about the welfare of another, they are said to not grieve over the ruin of Joseph. All of this is to say that the moral corruption which had overtaken the people of Israel because of their material prosperity had made them weak. The Assyrians were standing ready to make the most of that weakness.
This theme is reflected in all three of the lessons. The Letter to Timothy tells Christians not to be "trapped (by the pursuit of richness) by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction." The parable of "The Man Dressed in Purple" reminds us that the poor beggar we ignore at the gate may one day be us!
This is good stuff. Thank you all for being part of our worship at St. James'