“I Hate Your Festivals”

Amos 5:21-22

Take a moment to think of your favorite hymn or worship song. Now take another moment to think about your favorite annual worship service. Is it the Easter sunrise service, candlelight communion on Christmas Eve, the Agape Meal on Maundy Thursday, or something else? Finally, think about a meaningful baptism service you witnessed, maybe your own.

With these meaningful worship experiences in your mind, imagine God saying to you: I hate, I despise your festivals and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. . . . Take away from me the noise of your songs (vv. 21, 23).

What turns our favorite and most meaningful worship experiences into events that God hates? What pollutes our sanctuaries and turns our rituals of devotion into hollow words and meaningless routines?

To Amos, the Northern Kingdom’s disconnect from God stems from their mistreatment of the poor and most vulnerable. Amos tells them, and continues to tell us, that our religious services, favorite songs, and personal piety are only as good as our commitment to caring for others and loving our neighbors as ourselves. If our familiar acts of worship and devotion do not compel us to care for each other and take special care of the most vulnerable among us (like the poor, the widow, and the orphan), then the function of all of our religious rites and music is simply to make us feel good rather than to honor God.


How do our acts of worship lead us to engage the world in transformative ways?


God, teach us that the worship you desire is the devotion that leads us to love our neighbor. Amen.

This post originally appeared in Volume 31.1 of Reflections: Daily Devotional Guide.

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