1 I am Amos. And I raised sheep near the town of Tekoa when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel.
Two years before the earthquake, the Lord gave me several messages about Israel, 2 and I said:
When the Lord roars
pasturelands and Mount Carmel
dry up and turn brown.
What’s your name? Say it, in your mind. Say it in a whisper. Say it. How many times has it passed your lips? How many times have you answered the question: What is your name? How many times have you heard it spoken, have you turned to look? Was it said with anger, with love, as command, as demand, as question, as plea? It has followed you and gone before you. Your name: what meaning does it have to others? Are people pleased when they hear your name, or sad, or angry?
When we are gone, who will remember? What will they remember? Very few have their words recorded, even fewer have them read. How many people have read “the words of Amos”? What a responsibility. He is named aptly. “Amos” means burdened, heavy laden. Words can have weight, great weight. They can have power, great power. They can roar. They can thunder. They can scorch. They can wither. Which words of yours will be remembered?
Amos was a foreigner, a manual labourer, and a prophet. His burden was not just the weight of his own words, but their inspiration: God words. Are our words God words? Do they rescue, do they warn, do they save, do they heal? But healing can hurt. Disinfection stings. Scalpels are still knives. Wounds are wounds, however and why ever they strike.
Unlike Isaiah, Amos is not the court prophet, in the courtyard of the king. He is a courtroom reporter, a chronicler of crime. He states his own name for the record. Then the Judge enters: Oyez, oyez, oyez, all rise.
Whenever God or his messengers appear in the Bible, the first thing they say is “Do not be afraid.” We are never told we have no reason to be.
My God, You are so much more than I, or anything I can imagine or fathom. I listen. When I speak, may my words echo you, may my fingers have your prints.