This Sunday we will celebrate an aspect of prophecy that many people miss—the opposite of the cliché of “Prophets of Doom.” Here are some thoughts that Richard Rohr sent in his daily email meditations this week that get at the light-filled side of prophecy:
“Prophets teach how reality works by sharing what’s going to happen. You keep destroying the earth, and you’re not going to survive. That’s not a threat; it’s a description…. Christians often read the prophets as using threats to try to change behavior, when really they’re just showing us the universal patterns that are always true…. evil is its own punishment, and goodness is its own reward…. Looking through the writings of all the prophets, it is obvious that they prophesy marvelous futures just as much…—an amazing, positive experience…that fills hearts…with ecstasy that has to be shared.”
Prophecy is based on experience, insight and wisdom, it is grounded in personal observance of both the past and present, and also in the tradition that has handed down the visions of past prophets. Today we have increasingly strident voices of prophetic warning including scientists, activists and writers like Bill McKibben and David Wallace-Wells who are making very clear what doom awaits us if we do not change our ways. We also have many organizations and individuals providing the good news that we have the technology and alternative systems we need to avoid that doom.
What seems missing today is a comprehensive positive vision of the realm of God’s love established on earth, a world based on the Global Ethic developed by the Parliament of the World’s Religions and the Earth Charter and teachings of past prophets and leaders of all religious traditions who have shared their glorious visions of a new world. We need to fill our sight with the kind of future Gus Speth describes in his book, America the Possible, and George Kinder in A Golden Civilization and the Map of Mindfulness.
This is a crucial role that the church and we as individual members of the church can fill.
We will immerse this Sunday in words and music that lift up positive visions and encourage us to share their light with the world. We will read from Psalm 66, Isaiah 66:10-14 and Luke 10:1-11. We will sing “God of the Ages” (with its stirring tune, “National Hymn”) and “For the Healing of the Nations” (set to the same tune as “God of Grace and God of Glory”) and “Now Is the Time Approaching.”