“Bloom with Intention: Prophesies and Plumb Lines” by Kelsey Creech, Resident Seminarian

July 22nd,2021 Categories: Weekly Letter


Disciples,

This Sunday marks a transition in the life of our church. Pastor Kaji will preach this Sunday, then take the month of August off for her sabbatical, and Rev. Stephanie will return from hers for next week! I am grateful to serve a congregation who values their pastors and their rest. I have enjoyed writing these newsletters over the past month and have so appreciated the feedback I’ve received from many of you about them. It is a joy to be in community with you and to share in conversation about God’s Word together.

Our scripture this week comes from the book of Amos. Amos was a shepherd who lived on the border between Northern and Southern Israel at the time that King Jeroboam II ruled Northern Israel. Jeroboam II was a successful military leader who had amassed lots of wealth and new land for Israel; however, the Prophets of the time regarded him as a horrid leader because as he sought wealth and power, he let idolatry and injustice run rampant throughout Northern  Israel. Amos, moved by God to speak out against the injustice, traveled to Bethel, a prominent city in Northern Israel, and spoke out against the injustices in its large, prestigious temple. His sermons were compiled into the book, Amos.

While the beginning of Amos details the problems,  hypocrisy, and negligence of the “National Temple,” the end reveals God’s coming solution and a glimmer of hope for a future rebuilt on the principles of justice and righteousness. This scripture comes from the end of Amos, as Amos is recounting his visions of what God will do to Israel to find reparation for its sins. Let’s read together and see what Amos has had revealed to him and how the people react:

7This is what the Sovereign God showed me:  
God was standing by a wall, a plumb line in hand.  
8“What do you see, Amos?” God asked me.  
“A plumb line,” I said.  
Then God said to me,  
“Look, I am going to measure my people Israel by plumb line.  
I will no longer excuse their atrocities.  
9 The high places of Isaac are going to be ruined,  
the sanctuaries of Israel destroyed.  
With sword in hand,  
I will attack the House of Jeroboam.”  
10 Amaziah the priest of Bethel then sent the following message to Jeroboam ruler of Israel: “Amos is plotting against you in the midst of the House of Israel. The country can no longer tolerate what he keeps saying. 11 For this is what he says, ‘Jeroboam is going to die by the sword, and Israel is going into exile from its land.’ ”  
12 Amaziah told Amos, “Go away, seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there. Do your prophesying there. 13 We want no more prophesying in Bethel. This is the royal sanctuary, the national Temple!”  
14 Amos answered Amaziah: “I am no prophet. Nor am I the disciple of a prophet. I was a shepherd, and gathered figs for food. 15 But God took me from herding the flock, and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’“

[Amos 7:7-15 (ILB)/ Amós 7:7-15 (NVI)]

There are many important insights about God from Amos’ speech here: God uses unexpected people, like shepherds, to speak God’s word. God will not abide injustice. God measures God’s people by their depth, for that is how plumb lines (pictured here) are used for measuring. Be it depth of love, depth of faith, depth of spirituality; it’s not about how big one becomes but how their depth of love, justice, and kindness are maintained.

Amos shares a powerful message with the people of Bethel in Northern Israel – a message of condemnation, a message intended to wake people up. He is met with resistance by the gatekeepers of the National Temple who do not permit such criticism in their patriotic temple. Those whose faith is placed in the power of a Nation or the forcefulness of a leader have lost their depth of faith in God, lost their knack for love and justice, and – according to Amos – have failed to measure down to God’s expectations for righteousness.

God’s response to all this pride and power, predicted by Amos and carried out 40 years later by the Assyrian Empire, is the tearing down of that which had been built up in service to power  and wealth – the high places are ruined, their new territory is conquered away from them, and their King and his palace are struck down.

Like Amos, we must speak truth to power even when it is difficult or unwelcome. But more importantly, we must hear his message as it is still relevant today. May we all maintain depths of love, justice, and kindness that we might be emboldened to speak when we are led to speak, to find righteousness with our neighbors throughout the world, and to do justice each day.
Joyfully Yours,

Kelsey Creech
Resident Seminarian