vv 23-24. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!
Fashions change – even in Church life! At one time the ‘teaching’ was considered all-important; a Minister who was considered an inspiring teacher drew a large congregation. Congregations felt they needed to know all about Theology and exactly what the Bible said on every topic. Then the emphasis shifted to ‘Worship’. The worship leader took centre stage, the Band was important, as was the style of singing, and the newness of the songs. In the time of Amos, around 750 BC, worship was in the ascendancy and it sounded fine; great harp playing and volume full on! The only tragedy was that the worshippers were living unholy lives.
So to be brutally honest, the message from today’s reading is simply:
Participating in worship is no substitute for right living.
God was utterly blunt about it. “You can keep your harps and loud songs, what I want is justice and righteousness in your lives.” Tolerating injustice will not be covered up by any worship you can offer. Full stop.
This raises several questions for each of us to face up to.
Do I deal justly and fairly with everybody I encounter – whether in the workplace, or the neighbourhood, or the family and other social contacts?
Do I tolerate injustice in society, or can I work towards making it fairer?
Am I prepared to confront injustice, whatever the personal cost?
Am I aware of bullying, or any modern forms of slavery, or oppression based on gender? Should we as Church be involved in such social issues as well as the more traditional spiritual issues?
How say you?