Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Need for Prophesy

Our church's hymnal lays out the various songs in categories. There's service music for the Daily Offices and celebration of the Eucharist, seasonal music, (Christmas, Easter, etc.) music for specific times of day, (morning, noon, evening). Holy days, Saints' days, special Communion music... you get the picture.

The music at the end of the book is much more general. Classifications like Christian Life, Jesus Christ, The Church's Mission abound, and musicians can choose from close to four hundred hymns from these selections. Our final hymn today was from the group called Christian Responsibility. I'd never noticed that one before.

A Jewish proverb warns: if you hear something three times, take heed. No kidding.

We were reminded today that now is the time of the holiest of Jewish holidays: Yom Kippur, that in our Christian calendar we have very little that echoes their annual focus on deep repentance and reconciliation. We have Lent. Lent, which sometimes turns into forty days of self-absorbed fasting, culminating with Jesus death and resurrection, which saves us from all those sins we've been brooding over. But the focus for Yom Kippur is action. Not Jesus' action, but our own. Make the call, repay the debt, apologize, forgive, let go.

Ah yes, Let go. In the Old Testament lesson, Moses was heartsick and exhausted from all the whimpering of the people under his care. They wanted something to eat besides manna. Meat, garlic, leeks... a little variety in their diet. All they could remember was: they ate those things in Egypt. Not the slavery, just the garlic. So God spread the wealth of the spirit he had given Moses to the Elders of the tribes... and they prophesied. That's it. Nothing else. They just prophesied. Apparently the people quieted down. Why was that? What prophetic words shut them up?

Our celebrant suggested that prophesy is a truth that people need to hear. Prophesy is not necessarily about changing the circumstances within which we live, but about making a truth known so that we who hear it will change. Just one of the responsibilities we have as Christians is to speak and listen to prophesy. To be changed by it.

Our final hymn spoke to our times, to our country's self-absorption with protection, to our decision to wage war with anyone who is not "for us" rather than, as Jesus said, checking out who is actually "against us."

... Races and peoples, lo we stand divided...
by wars and tumults love is mocked, derided...

Lust of possession worketh desolations;
There is no meekness in the powers of earth,
Led by no star, the rulers of the nations
still fail to bring us to the blissful birth:
thy kingdom come, O Lord, thy will be done.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah, what truth! I wish each of us would email these words to all those in power now.