The revelry of the loungers shall pass away.
This Sunday’s readings have a lot to say about the pitfalls of being comfortable and complacent. And if given the choice between focussing on your own comfort and wants vs. answering God’s call to love and serve, it’s pretty clear that one is better than the other for the sake of the world and our own souls. Having care and compassion for others and working for justice are the right choice. There. I’ve done my duty as a clergy person. But the verse above from Amos keeps sticking with me. Who are these loungers?
Here is the whole passage from Amos for this Sunday:
Alas for those who are at ease in Zion,
and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria.
Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory,
and lounge on their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock,
and calves from the stall;
who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp,
and like David improvise on instruments of music;
who drink wine from bowls,
and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile,
and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.
It’s pretty clear that Amos was addressing those who were wealthy and therefore lived lives of leisure, rarely casting much of a thought toward those less fortunate. But… I just keep thinking about my cell phone.
Now, I know many of you reading this blog do not do this, but sometimes I find myself taking more time on my phone than I would objectively choose to before going to sleep. Just one more story from the news. Just a few more scrolls down my Facebook feed. Just going to look up one more thing on google or check my email one more time. Just take a few seconds to do the NYTimes mini crossword. Until I say to myself, “enough already.”
I guess all I want to say is that our entertainment focussed culture conspires to keep us lounging: binge-watching shows, playing games on the iPad, reading articles from multiple news outlets, catching up on old movies on Netflix. We live in an anxious world, and who doesn’t like to just sit down and relax sometimes? Veg out with a show or a video game? The problem is it makes us complacent - not only about God’s call to us in becoming the people we are called to be, but also about the needs and rights of others, and the pressing issues of our day.
When I get sucked into lounging, and then pull myself out again, I ask myself what I could have been doing with that hour. Sure - everyone needs some rest - but are there not better ways to rest than being sucked lazily into the vortex of entertainment and news? What about a quiet walk in the woods? Prayer? Reading a nourishing book? Visiting with a friend? Hey, what about turning out the light and getting some sleep?
So I’m listening to Amos a little differently this time. He’s not just talking to other people who are so wealthy and privileged that they are callous, distant and blind to the call of god and the needs of others. He’s also talking to me.
Our readings for this Sunday are HERE. Note that in ordinary time, we’re using the readings form Track 2