Saturday, July 23, 2016

A basket of summer fruit


As we gather for worship today, we are here on the one year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner.  (Last week  also the anniversary of the death of Sandra Bland…)  And so I must ask, one year later, where are we?

Amos gives us an image of …  a basket of summer fruit… I’m sure at least one year when this passage came up I actually brought in a basket of summer fruit for us all to share…it’s ironic because it is basically a pleasant image…but for Amos, it’s a sign that the best is past…that what looks fresh and pleasant and abundant is already rotting…
Thank you, Leila....

We recall that Amos last week protested that he was not a “prophet or a prophet’s son…”, just a simple working man, a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees…but nevertheless, he answers God’s call to speak to God’s people, and his people in his own language…

In his book Sabbath as Resistance, Walter Breuggeman sees this passage as a sign of a society where everything and everyone has been commodified….
Where there is no time for rest because as, the prophet says,
Hear this, you that trample on the needy,
    and bring to ruin the poor of the land,
saying, “When will the new moon be over
    so that we may sell grain;
and the sabbath,
    so that we may offer wheat for sale?

What has been set in motion is a time of a society falling apart…and be clear, this is not a judgment imposed from outside but a result of allowing  the bonds that tie us together to weaken and break…our worship, our feasts and celebrations will be empty…and meaningless in Goid’s eyes…tp the extent that we do no tcare fpr the weakest among us, we bepcms vulnerable to falling apart…vulnerable to any enemy
And in such a society, the biggest loss of all will be the absence of the word of God…
Prophecy is like the best science fiction, like Star Trek, for example…….it’s not a predictive describing of what will be but a metaphoric description of what already  is…
On this Sunday one  year after the death of Eric Garner, what is in  our basket of fruit?
Given that Eric’s last words were I can’t breathe, I was moved to include this hymn today:
1 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.
2 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will one will,
To do and to endure.
3 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Till I am wholly Thine,
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.
4 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
So shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life
Of Thine eternity.

And then these words from the Peace Poets:

"I still hear my brother crying ‘I can’t breathe’
Now I’m in the struggle and saying 'I can’t leave'
Calling out the violence of these racist police.
We ain’t gonna stop till people are free
We ain’t gonna stop till people are free"

Might I say, I’m proud that the Peaec Poets recorded their CD here at West- Park…

This is what the Lord God showed me—a basket of summer fruit.[a] He said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.”[b] Then the Lordsaid to me,
“The end[c] has come upon my people Israel;
    I will never again pass them by.
The songs of the temple[d] shall become wailings in that day,”
says the Lord God;
“the dead bodies shall be many,
    cast out in every place. Be silent!”
Hear this, you that trample on the needy,
    and bring to ruin the poor of the land,
saying, “When will the new moon be over
    so that we may sell grain;
and the sabbath,
    so that we may offer wheat for sale?
We will make the ephah small and the shekel great,
    and practice deceit with false balances,
buying the poor for silver
    and the needy for a pair of sandals,
    and selling the sweepings of the wheat.”
The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.
Shall not the land tremble on this account,
    and everyone mourn who lives in it,
and all of it rise like the Nile,
    and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?
On that day, says the Lord God,
    I will make the sun go down at noon,
    and darken the earth in broad daylight.
10 I will turn your feasts into mourning,
    and all your songs into lamentation;
I will bring sackcloth on all loins,
    and baldness on every head;
I will make it like the mourning for an only son,
    and the end of it like a bitter day.
11 The time is surely coming, says the Lord God,
    when I will send a famine on the land;
not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water,
    but of hearing the words of the Lord.
12 They shall wander from sea to sea,
    and from north to east;
they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord,
    but they shall not find it.

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