The word of God came to John son of Zechariah…to proclaim a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3.2b, 3b; my paraphrase).
Merciful God, who sent your…prophets to preach repentance…give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins (From the Collect for the 2nd Sunday of Advent, The Book of Common Prayer, page 211; my paraphrase).
Biblically understood, prophets don’t foretell the future. Fortunetellers do that. A prophet forthtells, proclaims God’s word.
Thus, when a prophet appears, it’s good and bad news. The good news? God speaks to the people. The bad news? God speaks to the people. For the prophet proclaims, “Thus saith the Lord”, as a reminder of God’s will, which the people have forgotten. (Now, given human free will, God’s word, once spoken, presents a choice: To hear and heed or to ignore; each with consequences. Prophecy, then, although not foretelling the future, is oriented toward the future.)
This said, I wonder. Who are the prophets today? I don’t mean those who merely speak loudly and with certainty; as if earnest conviction alone was a measure of truth. Indeed, one can be sincere and sincerely wrong. Rather, who are those who speak with such comprehensive depth and compassionate breadth that their message seems to come from the far reaches of the cosmos? Who point beyond themselves to a larger truth than they themselves have and hold? Who challenge us to remember what we have forgotten? Who confront us with the consequences of our choices? Who, with paradoxically bold humility, call us to repent?
© 2021 PRA
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