Amos 7, 12-15 I was no prophet. I was a shepherd.
Psalm 85, Lord, let us see you kindness and grant us your salvation.
Ephesians 1, 3-14, In love he destined us for adoption
Mark 6, 7-13, Take nothing for the journey but a walking stick
Says Kevin, "Welcome in, Everybody."
Author: Amos or his scribe. He was a shepherd of sheep & tended sycamore trees. One of the 12 minor prophets of the OT, minor because of smallness of the works. Amos has only 9 chapters. Usual pattern of prophets: 1. predictions of dire times for evil behavior; 2. predictions of better times in the future.
Date: Ca. 777 (a memory help), after the kingships of David & Solomon, time of King Jeroboam of the northern kingdom, called Israel vs the southern kingdom, called Judah (where Jerusalem is).
And from Harper, too, "Hi, Folks."
Geography: Note the two kingdoms, Judah in the south, Israel in the north. Amos tended sheep in a little town called Tekoa, 10 miles south of Jerusalem, in Judah, the south. He is sent by Yahweh to Bethel, a small but important town in the northern kingdom, 10 miles north of Jerusalem, to warn the people of Israel & their king Jeroboam that Yahweh was mad at them. The wicked high priest of Bethel, Amaziah condemns Amos for his interference.
The Setting: a time of prosperity. But Yahweh is mad at the greed of the wealthy and their oppression of the poor (which ties into our gospel talking about walking lightly through life). We know the people of this kingdom of Israel are headed for annihilation by the Assyrian nation. And they will disappear as a significant body.
Our Selection, chapter 7: Amos describes three visions or dreams he has. Amaziah gives it to him for spreading these visions around. Then, Amos responds and socks it to Amaziah with a hammer.
And from Sienna, "From Brooklyn and me, Welcome."
Take Nothing for the Journey
I apologize this morning for telling you a story that some of you will probably remember. However, the event so speaks to the gospel this morning that I can not pass it up. Another African story.
One evening in Tanzania I boarded an overnight train in Dar es Salaam, the capital. I would get off in the region near Kilimajaro where the Jesuit house was that I used as a base when I was not on the road giving seminars or retreats.
Some of The Cupcakes of The Week gang for this week.
I had bought my ticket just the afternoon of the trip. No compartments were available, which were not much anyway. Two shared the compartment and an upper bunk came down. You had to be careful in the little stations, because thieves would look in the window and grab. So, no big loss.
I had to take general booking. This entitled me to a place on the train, not necessarily a seat. It is not air conditioned and can be a bit warm.
Offertory with Mike and Judy, Sydney and Hugh.
I started out sitting on a suitcase I traveled with. There were mothers with little kids and a few chickens all around my area at the end of a train car. I expected it would be a long night, but I would get where I wanted to go and then sleep extra.
About midnight the train stopped, like in the middle of nowhere. We sit there. No explanation, nothing. I finally join others getting off. I lie down on the rocks on the edge of the track, my case under my head so no one would snatch it, and wait. And wait. We sit there with no explanation until about 7:00 the next evening.
Wendy and Collin providing The Best.
Just like Mark recommends in the gospel today, I had boarded that train with nothing to drink or eat. Looking back, I cannot believe I was so stupid. Normally I would never have set out without water.
Why did I not ask the Tanzanian ladies for a drink? I could easily talk Swahili with them. Trouble was, they did not often purify their water and I was afraid of it. So there I sat, now in the shade. I look around. Everyone on that train is Tanzanian. I am the only white guy, which by then I am at home with.
Suddenly I see up the track maybe 4 or 5 cars ahead of me a white couple. They have extra water. Hooray. They are Germans, but speak English with no problem.
We hang out. They saved me, and let me tell you a quickie about how I saved them.
We were seated in the shade of a Frangipani tree I can still clearly remember. All the passengers were seated along the train in the shade. Next to us was a momma with her baby. At one point the momma gets up and goes into the train.
Emma and Beth solving the World's problems.
The German guy who was about 6 foot 4 inches gets up and takes a picture of the baby. Bad move. Someone on the train sees him, tells the momma, she tells her husband, and he comes out yelling with a bunch of people. He wants the camera. He wants to take the German to the police, wherever that might be.
So, I stepped in. We all sat down under the trees and I talked. I finally got the father to allow the German to go to his compartment, cut off the baby’s picture, and give it to the man.
Emma with one of her Best Buddies.
He cuts off just the end of the film, brings it back, and gives it to the man. The crisis comes to an end.
I ended up climbing Kilimanjaro with the couple, which ended up being amusing. He was an Alpine Mountain rescue expert, like a 4 on a 5 scale. He could crawl across your ceiling holding on with his fingernails. When we got to the top of Kilimanjaro he got altitude sickness and I carried his back pack. Of course, I teased him mercilessly.
Harper dancing to the music.
I never saw them again, although they were begging me to come to Germany on one of my homeward trips. I wanted to see the Berlin wall and never did. She was East German, he West.
The story simply tries to show how literal reading of the Bible can get you into bad places.
What would you suggest is a positive in this story about traveling with nothing? Could this be what Francis is emphasizing when he talks about Less is Better?
How is Less Better for you?