Trying to get ahead before a holiday - sp lat week was a bit hectic.
Here's yesterdays notes (much expanded 'on the hoof') - no notes for July 19th, but will try to post something for 26th early rather than late!
Amos provides us with the memorable image of the plumbline.
God shows him this and says that he is going to place this plumbline in the midst of the people of Israel.
A plumbline is always true – it will show up what has not been built well, what is not built straight – even if at first glance it looks OK. If your life is a little unsure, a bit wayward, then the last thing you want is to be told that God’s plumbline is coming.
And so Amaziah, the priest complains to the King, Jeroboam – that they should seen this trouble-maker Amos to the other kingdom, the kingdom of Judah. Amos’s reply is that he isn’t a ‘professional’ prophet who wants to say things to please people and get paid for his work, but God has told him to say these things.
The people of Israel need to listen, and change, and ‘straighten up’ – especially when it comes to the unfair way they are treating the poorest in their society.
Being God’s faithful people means accepting that sometimes we have a problem, we are not quite right: we need to allow God’s spirit to move among us, correcting us when necessary and helping us to build our lives in a way that is true to God’s purpose.
The gospel reading recaps the story of John the Baptist.
Like the plumbline of Amos, John had not been afraid to tell King Herod that he should not have married his brother’s wife, Herodias. John is true to God’s law – and Herodias doesn’t like being open to scrutiny in this way. So she tricks Herod into having John killed.
Would John have changed his message if he had known the risk he was taking? Probably not – we have no evidence that his message changed while he was imprisoned by Herod. The truth is the truth – whatever the consequences are for your own safety.
The story of John the Baptist is told at this point of the gospel because what Jesus is saying and doing has reminded Herod of John – he thinks Jesus is John come again.
Jesus, too is God’s plumbline, the measure of what it means to live a life pleasing to God – a life lived for others and without fear of what authority can (and ultimately does) do to him. Jesus came not to judge and condemn but to love and save – to show by example what a life of love looks like, and to call people to follow.
The psalm is one of hope, not of judgement.
God will speak peace to his people, and bring in a time when love and faithfulness will meet: when people will be so filled with love for God that they will naturally be faithful – God’s love will fill God’s people so that their lives will be true to God’s plumbline – they will be put right.
I love the phrase ‘righteousness and peace will kiss each other’ – there will be a time of complete rightness and oneness and wellness.
In contrast to words of judgement, these are words of hope – God’s love will set people straight, will make their lives right.
Here we have Jesus’ life laid before us in bread and wine – to inspire us to live as God requires and to strengthen us to live by God’s plumbline and to be that plumbline to others.
To God’s glory. Amen.