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Speaking to the Soul: How Prophets Work

Speaking to the Soul: How Prophets Work

Week of 2 Easter, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 1, 2, 3 (morning) // 4, 7 (evening)

Exodus 14:21-31

1 Peter 1:1-12

John 14:(1-7)8-17

When I picture the work of prophets, I sometimes envision prophets as people ecstatically united to God, delivering impassioned speeches based on their powerful communication with the divine. Today’s reading from the First Letter of Peter brushes that image aside and replaces it with a different picture of prophets: Here, prophets are people doing the hard and diligent work of inquiry . . . and they are people who come to the humble realization that their labor is not for their own benefit, but for the sake of future generations.

According to this passage, the ancient prophets of grace were those who “made careful search and inquiry,” investigating the who, what, when, and where of how “the Spirit of Christ” would manifest itself on this earth. They discovered the distinctive pattern of Christ’s life: suffering first, and glory later. They gazed into the good news of the kingdom that Christ came to proclaim, and into all those “things into which angels long to look.” In short, prophetic work was (and is) deeply inquisitive.

What’s more, prophetic work is done on behalf of others. As our passage says of these prophets, “It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you”–that is, they were serving the people reading this letter, including us today. In other words, the prophets foresaw that not they but future generations would see a fuller expression of God’s justice, mercy, and saving grace. Perhaps the prophets greeted this realization with a mixture of grief for the present and joy for the future.

Whatever labors we undertake today, we might be able to add to them a prophetic dimension. If we bring an inquiring and searching spirit, and an orientation to a more gracious future, we may turn out to be prophets of the Spirit of Christ in the midst of a baffling world.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with education, young adult ministry, and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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