Readings: Isaiah 12:2-6; Amos 6:1-8; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15
Wealth offers the appearance of a self-chosen reality. Poor people can be avoided by living in a wealthy neighborhood; we can buy security systems to keep us safe from theft and violence. We can pretend that nothing bad will happen to us because bad things are only supposed to happen to them. But what happens to the larger society happens to everyone within it, even the financially well-insulated. Amos brings a word of judgement -wealth is not a get out of societal ills and community hardship card:
Alas for those who are at ease in Zion, and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria…for those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches…who drink wine from bowls, and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! Amos 6:1a, 4, 5b, NRSV
But the truth insists on breaking in, seeping in through the cracks. True joy and strength are from God, freely given to everyone. They cannot be bought, but they only grow when shared. They connect everyone and everything – for everyone and everything receive life from God. We hole up in our bunkers, we wall ourselves off from our neighbors, at the expense of life itself. Once we figure out that huge truth, those pesky neighbors and the noisy surrounding community are known for what they truly are: blessings. But it takes some trust and some clarity to get to that point – which is what Isaiah is offering:
Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted.’
Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 12:2-6, NRSV
Wealth doesn’t bring security or peace – only God can offer that. Wealth just allows us to build a luxury cell to serve out our self-chosen solitary confinement. But is that what we really want to do?