December 6 2015

2nd Sunday of Advent
‘Prophet-hood of All Believers’

BIBLE READINGS
Luke 1:67-80
Luke 3:1-6

REFLECTION

Prophet is probably one of the most misunderstood roles in the Bible. We often think that the role of a prophet is to make prediction of the future. But the central role of a prophet is not to predict the future; it's central role is to be God’s messenger. That message can be about the future, but it can also be about the present or the past.

Indeed for the prophet the future, the present, and the past are all linked. What will happen in the future will depend on what people do in the present. And what people do in the present must be informed by what happened in the past. So the role of a prophet is to remind people of the past and future events so that people can make the right decision in the present time.

Indeed the present time in prophecy is crucial. Prophecy, in its truest sense, is not about a prediction of the future; prophecy is the moment when God breaks into our mundane reality.[1] When Zechariah prophesied he did not only talk about a future event; when he prophesied his being was filled with God’s presence that he became God’s channel to bring comfort and hope to people in despair.

Indeed the role of a prophet is to point people not to himself/herself, but to the One whom he/she represents. A prophet is the messenger not the message itself. He is not the Messiah. Problem arises when a prophet starts thinking himself as the Messiah or when others expect him to be the Messiah.

But a prophet is not the Messiah; his role is to point people to Him. He is called to point people to the Truth, the Way and the Life in the midst of hopelessness, to the Prince of Peace in chaos, and to the Bread of Life in hunger. But he is not the Truth or the Way or the Life or the Prince of Peace or the Bread of Life itself. Just like John his role is to remind people to straighten every road that is crooked and make smooth every rough path so that God will come to their midst. Indeed a prophet is the one who prepares the way that leads to God.

But prophets are not a certain breed of people. We need to make a distinction between the ‘office’ of a prophet and the ‘call’ of a prophet. In some church denominations today a Prophet is a specific role in the church just like a Minister or a Deacon in the Uniting Church. But not everyone is to take the office of a Prophet, just like not everyone is called to be a full-time Minister or Deacon or Priest. Everyone however is ‘called’ to be a prophet, just like everyone is called to minister one another.

Indeed I like to see the church as a school for prophets. The ‘success’ of our church shall be measured by how far the church becomes the messenger of God’s words and by how many God’s messengers have we created. Just like Zechariah prepared John, his son, to be God’s messenger, it is our role to prepare the young people in our midst today.

Indeed John would never have become a great man without the help of Zechariah, his father. The role of his father was often ignored, but it was significant. Without Zachariah’s vision and sacrifice to prepare his son as God’s messenger, John would never have become the great prophet he was.

Likewise the future of our church; indeed the future of the proclamation of the Gospel will depend on our youths. Our role is to prepare them to receive the baton of the Gospel that we have received from our predecessors.

Friends, God has a plan for the world: a plan for goodness not for evil; a plan for its restoration, not for its destruction. But God doesn’t work alone. Ever since God created human beings in God’s own image, God invites us to be God’s agents in the world; to be God’s hands and feet in the world.

There is a story about a large statue of Jesus in Germany that was severely damaged by a bombing during WWII. The statue was found under the rubble and was fixed. But the hands were still missing. The workers however decided not to fix the hands or to replace them with new ones. Instead they put an inscription at the foot of the statue saying, “I have no hands on earth, but yours.

In the Bible God always worked through those whom God chose to be God’s messenger; Gods’ representative. The miracles and wonders that we witness in the Bible were almost always enacted through human agents. We are all God’s partners to bring healing and wholeness to the entire world.

The second Sunday of Advent is often known as the ‘prophet’ day.[2] And today we are reminded that all of us are called to be God’s prophets, God’s messengers in the midst of the world that is often in the grip of evil and despair.

Amen.

Rockingham,
Rev. Toby Keva

[1] Rolf Jacobson, Commentary on Luke 1:68-79, on http://www.workingpreacher.org (December 6 2015)

[2] Rolf Jacobson, Commentary on Luke 1:68-79, on http://www.workingpreacher.org (December 6 2015)