Friday, January 19, 2007

What makes a prophet?

In my previous post, I was posed a question that has me thinking - are there modern day prophets in line with the Biblical tradition? Feel free to read the comments in my previous post for the original question and my answer. I'm satisfied with my comments, but am curious to know what other people think the term means. How do you define a prophet? And is there something that distinguishes a type of prophet as in line with the Biblical tradition?

Looking in an online bible dictionary, I found this: a prophet "proclaimed the message given to him, as the "seer" beheld the vision of God. (See Num. 12:6, 8.) Thus a prophet was a spokesman for God; he spake in God's name and by his authority (Ex. 7:1). He is the mouth by which God speaks to men (Jer. 1:9; Isa. 51:16), and hence what the prophet says is not of man but of God (2 Pet. 1:20, 21; comp. Heb. 3:7; Acts 4:25; 28:25). Prophets were the immediate organs of God for the communication of his mind and will to men (Deut. 18:18, 19). "

In my own thinking, a prophet is someone who speaks to/reaches a lot of people and helps them understand God's intentions and wishes for us and our world. All of the prophets in the Bible, Jesus included (we can argue later about the full extent of Jesus's titles but prophet would be one role for sure), taught, spoke out when people didn't want to hear it, were ridiculed and questioned by those in authority, called the people to accountability, were commissioned by God in some fashion. There may be more to add to this list - I don't claim to be much of an expert or that this blog is exhaustive. A lot of these characteristics are easily seen but not all of them. The part that's really hard is the last one - how do we know who is "sent by God" or "speaking for God"?? There are preachers on tv who claim this role, but they all preach such different messages - are they all sent by God? There is a process for ordination in the United Methodist Church which is supposed to help determine those who are truly gifted for ministry and called by God, but does this process work? What about those pastors who abuse their positions? Are they still called by God? Where is the line and what are you criteria?

It doesn't work by consensus, and yet I think there are people, like MLK, Jr., who many people would agree are modern day prophets. Mother Theresa also comes to mind right away which leads me to say that people can "speak" through actions as much as words. Both aspects are important but in many cases actions come across in ways that words can never do. Jesus did both in an extraordinary way. I think there are many people, ordinary people, who do prophetic things all the time. I'd like to think that I'm one of them, but I don't dare call myself a prophet. There are many people in my life story who have been guides/teachers/mentors in their prophetic moments, but I wouldn't call them prophets outright either. I need to think about this some more but am curious to hear what you think - who are modern day prophets you would recognize - or are there none? How do you make that determination?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Honoring MLK

Happy ice/snow/MLK day!! It's been a lng weekend for me as I've been at a reunion of some college friends in Dallas, and today we drove back to Oklahoma City where I'm staying with some friends. The weather has been difficult, the ice storm even hitting as far south as Dallas causing many travel problems for those of us flying in from other parts of the country. Still it was a good weekend and everyone appears to have made it where they needed to go, at least for now. Driving up to OKC from Dallas, the ice turned to slush and there's actually an inch or two of snow under the ice in OKC. If it wasn't already a holiday, I'm sure that schools would have been off for a snow day today. Which caused me to stop and wonder for a moment, what do people do with MLK day??? Is it a day where you do something special?? Do you use it to catch up on things around the house or to run errands? Do you go shopping at the latest sales and maybe use some of those Christmas gift cards?

There's a United Methodist Bishop, Woodie White, who always write a letter to Martin Luther King, Jr. for his birthday. This is the link to this year's letter, which I think is definitely worth a read - it's my annual MLK day activity to read this letter, and if possible, I like to read or watch the "I Have a Dream" speech. There's actually a link to it on this webpage with Bishop White's letter. :) MLK was a great man with great vision and spiritual grounding - someone whose voice we could desperately use today. Where are the voices of faith to help people change this country and this world for the better?? Are they out there and we just can't hear them?? Or, are they like MLK, lost in the past and deemed "dated" or "irrelevant"? Do we know what to do with them? I didn't realize this until I was reading things on line today, but MLK day was only established as a holiday (and day of service) in 1994. I graduated from high school in 1993, and I remember there being a MLK day but maybe it was just a mention of his birthday and a little education on what he did and what happened to him. I can't remember, which is sad cause I'm not THAT old! Anyway, I hope that kids are still learning about Martin and get to hear his speeches and feel as inspired by them as I do. And I hope that you have taken at least this time to remember him and feel a little inspired or moved and have done something good with this day. Happy Birthday, Martin Juther King, Jr. (on January 15th)!!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Crazy - another post in the same week!! HAH!

I'm getting ready to see some old friends from college in the next week - a group of us who lived together in the dorm (and were also in the Christian women's service group on campus) kind of put together our own reunions to catch up with each other and just hang out. We all are from different classes, so "standard" reunions wouldn't necessarily bring all of us together and this way we can choose where we go, when we meet up, for how long and how much money we want to spend to do it. But it kind of got me thinking about other people from my past that I haven't ever "reunited" with and the concept of reunions in general.

I remember my mother in law being very excited about going to her high school reunion, I think it was 25 years - she had seen a lot of her old friends and they all caught up on what had gone on in their lives, where they were living now, etc. My parents never talked about high school reunions but every once in a while they would go back for college reunions. My 10 year high school reunion was a few years ago and I didn't go. Actually, I'm not sure that it really happened, but I wouldn't have chosen to go anyway. I'm still somewhat traumatized from my high school experience and didn't think that 10 years was enough time for me to be able to go back being even remotely objective about my fellow 375 classmates. Maybe by the time 25 years goes by I'll think of it as "fun" to see those people and discover what they've been up to - how much money they make, kids they have, where they live, etc. but for now I still feel relieved that I made it out alive and relatively sane. :) So, what about you? Have you been to reunions? Do you look forward to going someday? How long do you think it has to be before you're ready to go back?

I also think it's interesting that I'm really looking forward to this reunion (which isn't even 10 years after my college graduation) - that my college experience was so much more positive than my high school experience. I wonder why. Maybe because this group is a selective cluster of folks that I was close to rather than the whole graduating class. Several, but not all, of these women were in the religion program with me, so we all learned and grew together intellectually, spiritually and emotionally - I was closer with these people than I ever was with anyone in high school. maybe that's college or maybe that's the difference in being 20 vs. 16. I don't know. I'm curious to hear your thoughts about your own experiences though and wish you all a great week!!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

My Christmas

A few people have asked so I'm just going to make it easier by talking about it here. Yes, I had a good Christmas, but in a lot of ways it was strange and didn't really feel like Christmas. My mom got married in October (see earlier post) so instead of our "usual" family traditions, we went to his family's house for Christmas Day. His parents made their traditional Christmas dinner and they all exchanged gifts - they had even bought gifts for me even though I barely know them! They are all wonderful people - very welcoming and intentional about making me feel included (I was even asked to do the prayer before dinner) and yet I still felt like an outsider. Of course I did - I was an outsider, completely unknown to these people until a couple of months ago! And while I was grateful that they though to include me in their gift giving, the gifts I received were generic gifts anyone could buy anyone (for example, a candle). I know they were being nice, and I will use the gifts they gave me, but I couldn't help feeling a little down. If these people really knew me at all, they could have spared the shopping and wrapping - I'd prefer a donation to a charity rather than getting more "knick knacks" and "stuff" that needs a place in my house.

There were other things that made this Christmas odd for me - the biggest being that we didn't go to church. In my family the tradition has always been to go to midnight mass but my brother's car died (REALLY dead) and by the time he made it to the house (when my mom's husband drove to pick him up) and we had our Christmas dinner, we were too tired to stay up that late. Which also meant we didn't get to open one gift before going to bed. And Rob's family isn't really religious so there was no church Christmas Day either - where was the meaning of Christmas? In the Yankee Candle and other brand name gifts?? I hate to sound ungrateful but I can't wait for Angela to get home so I can truly celebrate the holiday.