Summary: A sermon on Amos 7:1-9 (Much material adapted from Cecil P. Staton, Jr. in book Interpreting Amos For Preaching and Teaching Kerygma and Church, chapter 8)
“Never again,” John said. “Never again will I trust you. I can’t forgive you this time.” Ann could feel the pain in his words. His heart was broken, and now he was going to break hers. “Never again! No more chances! How could you do this again? How could you show so little respect for our marriage, our family, our children, me? It’s over! Never again. I refuse to live like this any longer.” There was finality in his words she had never heard before. After a long series of affairs, she had finally added the straw to break the proverbial camel’s back. She did not blame him. In fact, she felt pained by his pain.
She had done it this time, and she fully knew it. She had hurt him before, and he had responded with harsh words, but never like this. Never had she heard, “never again.” She shuddered at the thought of it, the implications of it. It sounded so final. She had gone too far this time. Stunned, his words kept echoing though her mind: “never again, never again!” Her failure was a burden she would bear the rest of her life.
Bob’s shock was beyond belief. The words hit him like nothing had ever hit him before. His breath was taken away. He had to grab hold of the wall to hold himself up. He felt as though he would pass out. “You have it- AIDS.” A deep numbness set in. Bob had felt compassion for those who caught the disease through no fault of their own. He had even had pity on those who caught it because of their actions. But never did he think he would hear those words concerning himself.
As he walked to the car he realized that he could not remember another word the doctor said. Never again would there be a day, however long he lived, when these words would not haunt him and overshadow everything he did. The choice had been his. He had known the risks and yet exposed himself to the disease. He alone was responsible. He had himself to blame. Never again a carefree day to bask in the sun, to enjoy family and friends, to plan for the future, without the horrible reality of his condition. Never again.
The sirens were so loud he thought his ears would burst. He recognized them men who were walking around the two cars as the highway patrol. He heard the sound of the ambulance as it grew closer and closer to the scene of the accident. There were too many light flashing and too much noise. His body was numb. Already the men had attempted to ask him questions. He found that he could not answer. He wasn’t sure whether it was the effects of the accident or the drugs that he had taken. There didn’t seem to be anything physically wrong with him. He was shaken up, but nothing serious. As the men walked toward the car once more, they began assisting Todd to his legs. Leaning upon their shoulders, he began the short walk from the wreckage of the cars to the back of the ambulance.
It wasn’t until he saw the other car that his mind cleared enough to remember the driver of the other vehicle. As they walked, he could see two paramedics working with a woman stretched upon the ground. She was not doing well. They walked close to her. Todd could hear the paramedics conversation. “Hurry with that IV. I think we’re losing her. Her BP is bad. Wait, I lost her pulse. Quickly, let’s start CPR!” Todd thought, “Why is this happening? It’s all my fault. Why did I take those drugs? Why have I done? O God please save her. I promise, never again. I will never do it again.”
“Never again.” Those words are almost always painful. They sound so final- as if there is no going back. No more chances. When “never again” is spoken, we know something has gone too far. The time for change has passed. There is nothing we can do except live or die with the pain and the consequences.
Sometimes life goes on after never again. However, things are never the same. Never again usually leaves a burden to bear, a pain in the deepest recesses of heart, a sense of brokennes and failure. “Never again” are difficult words to hear, and they leave their marks upon us, impacting who are what we are as well as all that our future holds.
Amos delivered harsh words in a smooth season to the people of Israel. The prophets are often called preachers of “gloom and doom.” While it is true that the prophets generally delivered words of judgment, it would not be fair to say that the prophets enjoyed this aspect of their ministry. They are people after all and who likes to deliver words of “Never again.”