Stage 2: Seeing with Amos’s Eyes, part 1
If Elisha wants us to listen, Amos wants us to look. God’s repeated word to Amos was, “What do you see?” It was an invitation to pay attention, to take off the rose-colored glasses and really see what was before him. How often do we really pay attention to the world around us? Whether we are going to work, or to school; whether we are running our errands or even trying to get in some exercise, do we really look around us to see the state of the world, our nation, or our neighborhood? What do you see?
Within your congregation, there are those who see with a photographer’s eyes. Invite them to do a photo essay of the neighborhood where the church sits. Let them find corners of surprising beauty; ask them to find the brokenness and hardship that we’ve learned to overlook. Use those photos then as bumpers throughout the service on the screens alongside the song lyrics; put up a display in the narthex or hallways leading to the worship space; or use them as bulletin covers or handouts for worship. “What do you see?” is the question of the day.
Now, it’s true that God didn’t ask Amos to take a stroll around his neighborhood and report what we saw. No, there was a specific vision. God did something, set up something, and asked Amos to see it and interpret it. So, our seeing is a deeper seeing. Where have you seen the handiwork of God? Maybe it was as obvious as a plumbline set up next to the wall of the city, but more likely not. When Jesus talked about God at work, he talked about seeds planted in the ground and yeast hidden in the dough and pearls tucked away somewhere. We have to look harder and look deeper. We have to interpret as we see, understand as we look.
Some like to talk about glory sightings or God sightings when they gather. If your community is used to such language, you could have a time of testimony during worship and just ask who has seen God at work around them; then prepare to be amazed. Perhaps you need some training to learn how to see the handiwork of God before issuing an open call for response. Find the poets among you who are used to seeing in layers, interpreting what they see before them. Give them space to speak or to write as a teaching tool for the whole community to learn to see more deeply. And be clear that this is an everyday task, not a once-in-a-while thing. This is part of what it means to live as disciples of Jesus Christ, to live seeing what is before us, to live believing that God is at work among us, and to live identifying with joy that presence and that call. What do you see?
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.