Pentecost 2 :: What would it prophet....

Sculpture Garden 2009-07-11 036

Abstraction

Q: How do you welcome a prophet?

A: Very carefully!

We often make the mistake of thinking that prophets were [are] people who can foretell the future. They go around in unkempt dress wearing long beards and carrying placards that spell the end of the world. Most of us would steer far clear of this kind of person—not that we think they may be right, but because we know they're crazy.

Or we think of people like Nostradamus who supposedly predicted everything from the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 to the crash of the stock market in '29, hundreds of years prior to those events.

We'd be wrong on both accounts.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, prophets were men and women to whom God had given messages of concern and hope to God's people. Beginning with a recounting of the sins of the people, the messenger of God would spell out in no uncertain terms what the consequences would be if the people did not repent: war, famine, disaster, displacement. I don't know of anyone who would like to hear this kind of news. That's why the kings of Israel only wanted to hear prophets who spoke good things: like restoration, victory, peace. None of that doom-and-gloom stuff, if you please. And please do not make us change our ways!

The true prophet didn't shirk from telling the truth: "You are living in sin, if you keep going this way, dire things will happen to you, but if you return to the Lord? Well, if you return to the Lord, ask forgiveness, and amend your ways, God is a forgiving God who will take you back!"

Some prophets, like Jeremiah, were a bit weird—wearing soiled underwear and carrying a yoke around his neck. But these were mere props to the message he spoke: "You people are messed up, so you better change your ways. Or else."

Seems to be a message we need to hear today...

Something to ponder:

How do you welcome a prophet?


Link to RCL Lectionary for Proper 8, Year A

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