The other day in meeting for worship I was thinking about the role of prophecy, and felt led to speak about it, so here (in a nutshell) is what I said, and then some more thoughts about it.
"Who among us is a prophet? Is prophecy just a vocation for a few who God calls to speak out in unusual ways?
"I think prophecy is simply speaking the truth, and living with obedience and faithfulness to the leadings we hear from God.
"In the Hebrew Scriptures the prophets speak out about following the ways of God rather than the rules and laws that have grown up and made a religion out of the truth. "Sacrifices and offerings I do not desire," says God, "but I desire that you seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with me" (Micah 6:6-8).
"We are all called to this life of faithfulness and obedience, to act justly and mercifully, to walk in God's ways and in God's presence. The world sees this as prophecy, because this way of living breaks the norm of the world, but it should be nothing extraordinary for those of us following God.
"The thing is, not many of us have the strength to be prophets on our own...at least I don't. I want to live a life of faithfulness and obedience to the truth I know, but we need each other, we need community. Hopefully Friends can be a community of prophets again."
I don't know about you, but I don't often feel like a prophet. At least, I don't feel like a true one--sometimes I feel like a false one. I talk a lot but what am I actually doing that's abnormal to American mediocrity and pompous comfortability? Not much. It's hard to even know where to start--what issue to focus on.
I wish Friends would get together and decide on one issue that we're really going to tackle together, and that we're really going to put our money and our energy where our mouth is. Maybe we mostly agree that "War is not the answer." Good, fine. But why are we still paying taxes that go to war (FCNL says 43% of our taxes go to war this year). Why are we still driving around in cars that take oil which causes war? Why are we still buying stuff made or grown in other countries where people are being paid money that is not a fair wage, leading to strife and conflict because of lack of ability to feed their families? We talk a lot about war, but what are we doing? (I include myself in this criticism!)
What could we do like the nineteenth century Friends who wore undyed clothes so they didn't have to support slavery? We might have to look different, we might have to take a stand that people would notice. We might get thrown in jail or made fun of or any number of persecutions. But wouldn't it be worth it for standing up against injustice, for making sure the "widows and the orphans" had food on the table, and didn't have to be afraid of being shot or bombed anytime soon? Why do we think it's OK to provide for "me and mine" and then, if I have any energy left over, to help others a little? Sure, we have to take care of ourselves, but I think we get so tied up in taking care of ourselves that we never actually help those who REALLY need it. I'm not talking doing volunteer work at church/meeting, because although that's all well and good, most of those people don't really NEED anything (except maybe sleep and love). But stepping outside our comfort zones and really addressing needs of those who truly need something, that's a lot harder and a lot scarier. Or maybe it's just me...
I didn't say all that in meeting, luckily, but I wonder what the role of a prophet really is in our time. Is it to sit in a comfortable home complaining about the state of the world? Or could we all work together and DO something to change things, like our spiritual forebears did?