Prophets and their communities
by Kathy Matuschka
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Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:5).
You may recall that in response to God’s call above, Jeremiah replies: ‘I do not know how to speak; I am only a child’ (verse 6). This week, we will reflect on the prophetic calling. We will consider some of the experiences of someone consenting to declare God’s word and will to others. Today, though, let’s zoom out from Jeremiah to the community that supported and protected him.
Jeremiah presents as an emotional loner, and there is no disputing that people called to share unpleasant news tend to find themselves in a lonely position! But Jeremiah was not alone: he was dependent on friends like Baruch, who wrote down the words that Jeremiah received from God and read them to the people (Jeremiah 36:4,10), and Ebed-Melech, the Cushite who rescued Jeremiah from the cistern (Jeremiah 38).
Many biblical scholars believe there was a prophetic community supporting and protecting prophets like Jeremiah, possibly even contributing to the text that has been passed on to us and continuing in the tradition that Jeremiah had begun after he died.
So what, you say? Whether you identify with the prophetic gifting or not, if you are a Christian, you are part of a prophetic community, called to weigh up the words you hear in the light of God’s word and the context in which we find ourselves … and sometimes even to speak!
Ah, Lord God, there are many things about the times in which we now live that confuse me. Especially in the western world, I wonder what you are making of us, your church. Holy Spirit, please continue to build us as communities of insight, faith and hope, supporting and encouraging one another as we speak of the things we see. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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