Those of us lucky enough to have been introduced to the writings of the Hebrew prophets through the work of Abraham Joshua Heschel are elated that the lectionary readings at Sunday Eucharists — from now to the end of the year — include major snippets from those writings. From Amos’ “Hear this, you who trample on the needy‚” to Hosea’s “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel?” we hear words of judgment on the deeds of the nations and the people’s apathy as they sit back and let it all happen. And in the midst of judgment, we hear God’s words of passionate love and comfort, a promise of redemption and the rebuilding of the cities of our lives.
Their visions are poetic and dramatic and often startling. They throw at us the “parade of horribles” that follow human collusion with corruption or indifference: wars, environmental degradation, damage to lives and loss of hope. They also show us glimpses of beauty and relationship that are expansive beyond the limits of our own imaginations. And they tell us that nothing is preordained, that God does new things. Heschel said once that there are no proofs for God, only witnesses. The prophets are such witnesses, and for Christians, the first to convey the powerful and living image of the incarnational God we know as the Christ. Not surprisingly, it is they Jesus cited most often in describing the meaning of God’s kingdom.
If, as the prophets say, God is the One who hears the cries of the suffering and acts, we, clearly, are meant to do the same. As the prophet Micah put it: do justice and love mercy and walk humbly with our God. We are meant to be the people who live by God’s values.
Have a blessed week.