The prophet Amos begins his speech to God’s people by saying, “The Lord roars from Zion”. This image of a powerful majestic creature that rules over the kingdom centers God’s reign and rule over all things. What an intriguing picture of God as one whose roar is a call—a prophetic voice that disrupts us and invites us live justly in a way that rebuilds a just world.
Amos has been disrupting and inviting me for over two decades. My first deep dive in Amos was two decades ago through inductive manuscript study. There were colored pencils all over the place for days as we marked up our pages with things that repeated and contrasted and imagery we had questions about. I continued to spend time with Amos on the campus, as an urban project director, into my Hebrew classes in seminary, in my neighborhood, into our state prison and in my own times of reflections. In 2018 I started preaching Amos for almost two years all over the country and the world. The intensity of Amos and the longing he had for people to seek God and hate evil was profound. The frustration he felt when people chose idolatry over true worship resonated with me. The hope he put forth for those who would chose justice surprised and inspired me.
Naturally, when we began this journey, I invited our staff and advisors to the table to study Amos for two straight days. We asked ourselves what is Amos saying to our generation:
- How are we complicit in systems of injustice?
- Why is repentance (turning to seek and love God) so hard?
- Do we speak against injustice with authority? Where does it come from?
- If the way we live matters, what does true worship really look like?
Amos messed us up and left us with more questions than answers. And this is what we hope Amos will do for you. Our hope is to continue to explore scriptures like Amos together. To deconstruct faith and worship and to decolonize the egocentric anemic impotent faith many of us have been handed. We want our faith to have teeth.
The Lion imagery also comes from the famous CS Lewis’s Chronicle of Narnia. In the story, four children end up in a land far away from home by entering through a wardrobe they discovered while exploring their new home.
Soon after the children arrive in Narnia, their new friend Mr. Beaver tells them: “They say Aslan is on the move.
Susan asks, “Is he quite safe?”
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver, “Course he isn’t safe, but he’s good.”
Aslan, the lion, is the rightful king of Narnia and will one day overthrow the evil queen who has brought a perpetual winter to Narnia. Lions are not safe – they are fierce. But Aslan is also good! In the story you see that wherever there is life, wherever there is warmth, wherever there is goodness, Aslan is not far. Here the song from the story:
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”
Aslan’s presence changes things, his presence brings springtime. His presence is Love and Justice. The lion is an image of both God’s fierceness and goodness. In order to do the work of chasing justice, we must believe that God is good. That is a hard task when we see the violence and injustice. This is why we need one another. Let’s rebuild a just world together.