At the start of the Advent season, we light the candle of the Prophets.
Prophets are people who come so close to God, and God comes so close to them, that they know what is most important.Jerome Berryman, Godly Play
Generally speaking, prophets are not popular people.
It’s understandable really. Either they are throwing out some quite confronting warnings about where particular life choices might lead us (generally ending in despair, destruction, and death), or they’re painting such impossible pictures (like wolves lying down with lambs or an-all-you-can-eat-banquet at no cost or dry bones coming to life again) that you have to question their sanity.
It’s important to note as we celebrate our “prophets of old” in this month that prophets are not just people of the past.
Have you ever met a prophet?
How do you know?
How were they received?
What difference did their words make?
An important task of the Church today is, in fact, to exercise a prophetic voice in the communities and societies and countries in which we gather. In other words, part of our calling as Christians is to offer warning about where particular life choices might lead us and/or to paint seemingly impossible pictures of God’s future for the whole world with great hopefulness and expectation.
These are not to be our own desires or judgments ill-wrapped in “godly language” to suit our own causes or sense of what is good and right but pointing people to the One who promises the renewal and reconciliation of the whole earth.
During Advent, when we are particularly aware of God coming close to us in Christ, we have the opportunity to come so close to God that we know what is most important, that we have something to say in the world that can make a dramatic difference.
How can you come close to God over this special season?
Over the next six days we will enter deeper into the mystery of God-with-us through the prophets, beginning with Micah who sets us firmly on the road to Bethlehem:
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”Micah 5:2
God of Promise,
we hear, in Christ, your greeting
to the universe as we enter into this season of mystery:
“Hope to you:
hope for healing,
hope for refreshing,
hope for a world made new!”
We confess, today, how hard it is to pay attention to the signs of your presence with us –
or within those who are radically different from us.
We acknowledge, today, how easy it is to speak criticism
or judgment or bad tidings
above good news and affirmation and promise.
We turn away, today, from the past that holds us captive
in the place of pain and despair,
as we turn in the light of your revelation
and the movement of your Spirit
to your vision for this new day,
for a world made new.
Open our hearts to the words of the prophets – past, present, and future –
as we seek to be signs of Your hope in this season.
In Jesus’ name.