Tag Archives: Prophets

Hearing with New Ears

Ordinary Time
January 15, 2018

Hearing with New Ears

Scripture Reading: Jonah 3:1-6, 10

The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, ‘Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.’ So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, ‘Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.

 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. –Jonah 3:1-6

In the cacophony of prophets, good and bad, speaking today, how do we discern the will of God? I do not think that the people heard God by either Jonah’s eloquence or even rightness. They heard the will of God that Jonah did speak because the Spirit stirred their hearts and their minds to listen with new ears.

The media is all over a story about the President using foul language to describe people he believes are not worthy of migrating to our country. While we might never use the language, he used, how many of us carry the same bigotry in our beings. Who do we want to come to the USA? Who of us do experience fear when we think about diverse people fully integrating into our society? How many of us can truly say Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free*?  Are we more apt to desire migrants who are the best and the brightest and even the whitest? Do we truly believe that God created the earth and all that is in it and that God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them? (Genesis 1:27) Whether you believe creation happened in seven days or millions of years, the truth of God’s image being the source of humanity rings true. When we think we are better than any of God’s children, we think we are better than God. Blasphemy separates us from God. Once our hearts are set right with God, we can discern the true prophets of God.

Prayer: Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways;
reclothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise.** Amen.

*Taken from The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus part of which is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty
**First verse of Dear Lord and Father of Mankind by John Greenleaf Whittier, see at https://hymnary.org/text/dear_lord_and_father_of_mankind

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Prophetic Voices

overcome-evil-with-goodAdvent
December 11, 2016

Scripture Reading: Matthew 11:2-11

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look those who were soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A Prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom, it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptists; yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he. –Matthew 11:7-11

How do we decide whose messages have credence? The word, the role prophet is not someone with clairvoyance, the ability to foretell the future. A prophet is one who speaks forth by the inspiration of God*. Most often I see the prophets in the Bible accurately reading current ways of doing and being and predicting where our behaviors will lead if not corrected. Prophets also speak to the steps necessary to change our actions and attitudes to avoid chaos and calamity.

John in the role of prophet gives Jesus a strong recommendation as one to be seen and heard and followed. John is throwing the full weight of any influence he might have in support of Jesus.

The sad part about prophets is we never seem to listen to them. We read about their warnings years later and think, “How could the people not listen to the prophets?” And still today we hear and see what we want to hear and see just like our ancestors in faith much to our destruction.

We make it easy for the forces of evil to succeed for we do not learn from our mistakes or the mistakes of our ancestors. The cause of destruction has not changed over the millennia. They are lust for power and greed, and they are counter to everything Jesus and all the prophets who came before him taught. Are we a generation who can change this cycle of destruction?

Prayer: Lord, write your ways on the hearts of all who claim you as a Savior, bring us to the oneness we must have to be sources of justice. Amen.

*http.//biblehub.com/greek/4396.htm

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

The Teacher

Todorovich_SliveroflightLiving in the Spirit
August 9, 2015

Scripture Reading: John 6:35, 41-51

Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ They were saying, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, “And they shall all be taught by God.” Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. —John 6:41-45

Jesus is perhaps quoting from Isaiah here when he says “And they shall all be taught by God”.

All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the prosperity of your  children. (Isaiah 54:13)

Prior to this verse Isaiah has compared the times in which the people of Israel found themselves to the time of Noah when God become so disappointed with the peoples of the world God destroyed them all save for Noah and his family and a representation of the animals. This was not a time with which anyone would want to be compared.

Since a promise had been made at the time of Noah to never destroy the world again, God’s solution was to become the Teacher. Working through many prophets, God schooled the people of Israel but still the way was not clear. Thus, God sent God’s son, Jesus the Christ, to serve as Teacher, but only the students whose hearts and minds were opened to learning took in the lesson.

I fear, we also find ourselves in similar comparison to not only Noah but the Israelites who were exiled because of their failure to follow God’s ways. Jesus is assuring us God is God and God is working God’s purpose out. If we want to be a part of God’s purpose we must open our hearts and minds to God’s teachings. It is very easy to do but it is very hard to do. Easy because God wants the very best for us and will eagerly share truth; hard because we are very stubborn in thinking we are the holders of the knowledge of exactly what is best for us. Our prayers may be more attempts to change God then attempts to allow God to actualize us as the persons he created us to be.

 Prayer: Lord pour forth your love to us through any tiny space we might open to you. Let that love grow to open more room for your love until we are all fully yours. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Greed

Living in the Spirit
July 5, 2014

 Scripture Reading: Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 

‘But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another,
“We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
   we wailed, and you did not mourn.”
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon”; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.’ — Matthew 11:16-19

 I sense the same level of discontent in our society today as that which Jesus describes in his own time and place. We are a people who can neither be happy or sad. We are critical of those who act and of those who do not. We want to have our cake and eat it too. I particularly see this in the reaction of the public to government. I have literally heard campaign ads that in one sentence criticize an opponent who is trying to cut military spending, but in the same ad is demanding that the opponent cut taxes. Apparently we cannot see the contradiction in those two actions.

I actually find it rather frightening to read the prophets of old as they describe similar attitudes among the Israelites before the fall of first, Israel and later, Judah. The people were so caught up in greed and self-indulgence that they could not see that their own behavior was causing the disintegration of their society.

Greed is epidemic in America today. It rules our lives as we stand in long lines waiting for stores to open so that we can get the newer, better version of a gadget that was updated only a few months earlier. We want the government to stay out of our business unless we need its services and then we complain because it is not efficient and effective enough even though its resources have been cut and cut and cut some more. We want anyone else besides us to pay taxes, but we want the services they provide right now.

Our scripture today quotes Jesus as trying to get this same message across 2000+ years ago. The prophets spoke about it 4000 years ago. Will we ever learn?

Prayer: O God, convict us of our greed and other sins that are tearing at the heart of our society. Cleanse us, forgive us, and make us true disciples. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.