Who are the prophets that are speaking to us today?
As I read through the texts for the second Sunday in Advent, my attention is drawn t the voices that come before - the voices that announce the coming of something big.
Especially coming away from this past week's reading and my own reflections on hope inspired by recent events and Luke's end times teaching, I am drawn to Baruch's command to action - get out of your jammies, take a shower, comb your hair, shake of the blues and put on your fine garments of righteousness, oh Israel.
In Feasting on the Word, Year C Volume 1, commentator Deborah Block ponders Malachi's use questions to incite reflection. A well placed question without a given answer is such a fabulous way to make us think. When we are seeking to stir people, are we spoon feeding them ideas or nudging them to think, feel and act?
Zechariah's song takes the place of a psalm...his is a song of wonder and praise to God who looks favorably on God's own. It also places John the Forerunner in the stream of prophets and names his role - a prophecy about a prophet, if you will:
"And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most high; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people..."
This baby has big shoes to fill as he grows.
In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul speaks his own prophesy about how this community will become "pure and blameless." I've never spent a lot of time thinking about Paul as a prophet in his day, and yet that is a role he played in the communities into which he spoke.
Finally in the gospel passage for the day, John emerges and is placed in the context of the prophet Isaiah's proclamations. As in Advent 1, our gospel text is NOT focused yet on the traditional elements of the birth narrative and we really get to once again slow down and put all the parts and pieces together carefully -- not in the rapid fire way that we may remember it from the high points of our childhood or from the way that society wants to race to the baby in a manger -- but slowly pondering what it meant for each character to fulfill their role.
And so I'm thinking about the role of prophets. And wondering if we can hear modern-day prophets above the roar of the world around us. I think that prophets are still speaking -- but between technology and globalization, how do they rise above the chaos? And in that case, what is the role of community -- of the local church -- in listening for prophets even locally? I know a few communities where one or two voices speak above the fray and name what they see...and what they envision...and what they understand the Spirit to be doing. And maybe like Paul, they overlap many communities that are connected by their prophetic voice.
That's where my head and heart linger as we wander toward the second Sunday in Advent this year C.