I begin by making a confession. During thirty-seven years of parish ministry, I never ever considered myself to be a prophet. I looked at myself as a preacher, teacher, pastor, evangelist, friend. Almost three years after I retired from full time parish ministry to begin JFAOFT, I claimed the name "Prophet."
Why was I so resistant to the burning bushes called Prophecy reveals?
I don't like hard conversations. I don't like to hurt people's feelings. I don't like conflict!
Like Jeremiah, I don't want to cry all day and night. I don't want people to think I'm crazier than I already think I am. Already, there are moments when I act like Ezekiel, I don't want to be an uncovering presence that pisses everyone off. I don't want to be some kind of persistent nuisance. I don't want to ride winds that unclothe others including myself and leave us totally exposed, transparent, vulnerable.
Bottom line, I'm concerned claiming the name "Prophet" will send me on journeys that will turn my world upside down. For instance, even though I was born in El Paso, I only lived there for one month when my Dad served in the army. Do I have to go back there, Lord, and reach out to my homeless refugee sisters and brothers, the "strangers" good Christians blame the world's problems upon? I don't want to cross borders. I don't want to get shot at and killed.
Then again, I wouldn't mind embodying some parts of the way of life portrayed by Isaiah who represents three prophets who claimed the name during a wide range of Israel's history: the prophet of reality; the prophet of despair, the prophet of hope. Yes, and I wouldn't mind ways of life that help me live into the good life Micah describes: "No. O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8, "The New Living Translation of The Bible.").
As a follower of God in the flesh, Jesus of Nazareth, fully God, fully human; do I have any choice in the matter? Does saying "Yes, Lord, here am I," mean I say "Yes," to being a prophet? Does saying "Yes," "Lord Jesus, I hand over my life to Divine Potter mean I will be reformed so many times I start to embody Christ-likeness? Does saying "Yes, Lord" mean I believe Jesus, The Good Shepherd, will carry us through seasons of disorientation, orientation, reorientation. (See "Let Justice Roll Down: The Old testament, Ethics, and Christian Life.").
Does saying "Yes," to Jesus, the Messiah, mean that he will lead us to discover God defines what justice looks like? Does following Jesus mean he will show us and empower us to be instruments of right relationship with all creation? Does saying "Yes," to the God incarnate in Jesus look like receiving the testimony, dispute, and advocacy revealed in the Hebrew Bible?
Will I trust the Spirit of God to breathe new discoveries concerning ways God carries us upstream to remove pebbles forming boulders that cause systemic "isms" downstream: "isms" that encourage us to place persons and all creation including eco-systems in better than/lesser than categorizations? Can we trust Jesus enough to enable us to walk on water by exposing often unexamined societal currents that place persons in a system called caste that bind us in casts?
(See "Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy" written by Walter Brueggemann.).
I invite you to read this series of blogs that will reveal real life uncovering stories about ordinary persons who embody extraordinary light exposing darkness in the kin...dom of God. These are stories of persons who do not take "No" for an answer, persons who speak truth to power. Why? They really act like they believe the reality: "He canceled the record of charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross." (Colossians 2:14-15, "New Living Translation of The Bible").
In the atonement, One Moment, triune God exposes all! Dear Friend Jesus lays down his life out of love. Dear Friend Jesus embodies agape: "This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command...This is my command: Love each other." (John 15:12-14, 17; "New Living Translation of The Bible").
A Picture of my brothers with me in Cap Haitian, Haiti (2013)
This picture was taken after we "threw mud" together to build a new school.
Being prophetic looks a lot like picking up the dust of the earth, adding water immersed in the rivers called baptism, and forming new relationships across borders. Together we build homes and schools and visions of agape. Instead of throwing mud to build larger barriers, we claim the Good News: Jesus of Nazareth, the solid rock upon which we stand, breaks down all barriers!
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