"I Will Raise Up Prophets"

Uploaded by centexmcc on 30.01.2012

Moses probably isn't the person I would have picked to be a prophet. He wasn't very articulate; in fact he stuttered.
He had a criminal background; he had actually murdered someone, and then fled the scene of the crime.
He had anger management issues, as evidenced when he shattered God's carefully carved stone tablets against the mountain.
He's probably not who I would have chosen to be prophet, but then again, I’m not God and my ways are not God's ways.
In this time of economic and political uncertainty, the world seems to be looking for a prophet. We are looking for someone to guide us, lead us into the future.
Someone to show us the way. Vainly, we tune into the Republican presidential candidate debates for a prophetic word.
And I fear, just as vainly, will be our search for a prophet of the people in the final showdown in November.
We look for someone who can speak eloquently, someone who represents the people, someone worthy of our vote.
But instead, we find power-hungry politicians with swollen bank accounts to match their swollen egos. Candidates – both Republican and Democrat –
who have made so many promises to special-interest groups, they can no longer be said to represent the people.
We are desperate for a prophet of the times, but I suspect we may be using the wrong standards and guidelines. Some simple standards were set down in this morning's first reading –
prophetic standards which God provided for Moses and the people of Israel. And one of the standards was that prophets will come from the people.
Although Moses had been raised as an Egyptian within the house of Pharaoh, and although he had spent years as a shepherd in the land of Midian,
Moses was, in fact, an Israelite at heart. And only an Israelite could be a prophet to the people of Israel.
Being "one of the people" means more than just fulfilling the minimum residential qualifications that are required to run for office.
Being "one of the people" has nothing to do with political or religious affiliation. Being "one of the people" means, well...being one with the people.
It means having had the same experiences as the people. A white person can't be a prophet to people of color.
A millionaire can't be a prophetic witness to the poor. And if the LGTBT population is looking for a prophet, it needs to look from within its ranks.
A prophet is more than someone who is just academically aware of the pain and suffering of the people; a prophet has actually lived within the same pain and suffering
as the people to whom that prophet is called. So a prophet will come from the people to whom she or he is called. But it's not the people who do the calling; it's God.
Twice within our scripture, we read that it’s God who will raise up the prophet. It’s not a popularity contest and it’s not a democratic election.
Prophetic witness is not determined by a debate or by passionate speeches which win the favor of the masses. The prophet is not the one who looks the best or touts the highest morals.
Were that the case, Moses never would have made it to first base. Honestly!
Would you vote for an introverted, stuttering murderer with anger issues, who hears voices from burning bushes? Me neither.
So although prophets come from the people, prophets aren't called by the people; they are called by God.
There is a story within the Bible about how the time had come for a new king for Israel to be selected by Samuel.
God told Samuel that the future king would come from among the sons of Jesse...which was fine, except Jesse and his wife, being a prolific couple, had eight sons,
almost all of whom would have been ideal candidates for the position. And so, as the sons were paraded before Samuel, God warned Samuel saying,
"Do not look on the appearance or on the height, for God does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart."
And so, as it turned out, it was David – the youngest, the last, and the least likely to be selected – who God indicated would be anointed as the future king of Israel.
Prophets aren't chosen by the people, they are raised up by God, who looks on the heart. We can only look on the outside.
We listen to the words that are spoken and look at the deeds they have done. But God looks on the heart. And it's from the heart that prophets are born.
And in the concluding words of this morning's text God says, "I will put my words in the mouth of the prophets, who shall speak to them everything that I command."
A prophet is the mouthpiece, the very spokesperson of God. Prophets are sensitive to the needs of the people and attentive to the voice of God.
And so if they are true to their calling, they usually make people angry...especially those who are in power. They call out injustice where it occurs.
And they act as ambassadors of God's reign on earth where everyone will live at peace with each other...a notion that usually threatens those who are in power.
So being the prophetic voice of God comes with its own risks. Not the least of which is death. Unfortunately, prophets usually end up dead.
But not their message. The message of hope for a new day can never be killed. And so, on that happy note, who wants to be a prophet?
If you're not too keen on the idea, then you are in good company, not the least of whom was Moses. But I believe that when you embrace the message of Metropolitan Community Churches,
you embrace the calling of being a prophet. Because that's what MCC is: it's a prophet to our times.
MCC churches are the unlikely prophets of our times. Our movement appears to fulfill all the standards that have been set down in this morning's text.
First, it has been called from within the LGBT community, not from outside. We are not a mainstream denomination
that has changed its ways and suddenly decided to start playing nice with the poor, unfortunate LGBT people.
No, MCC was born out of the pain and struggle of the LGBT community, its first worship service taking place in 1968 just months before the Stonewall Riots.
Secondly, it's God that called forth MCC churches, not the people. God was the one who inspired Troy Perry with a three-prong message of Christian salvation, Christian community, and social action.
It was God who was able to transform that worship service in Troy’s living room with just 12 people in attendance into an international movement of thousands of people.
And finally, MCC churches have continued to be the mouthpiece of God, speaking out for justice and equality for all people,
insisting that God's love is unconditional and that all people are welcome at God's table of grace.
And the fact that we have been a thorn in the side of the religious and political establishment has come with its own risks.
The reaction to MCC from the general public has ranged from indifference to outright violence. Over the years, 22 MCC churches have been burned by arson
and Troy Perry has received death threats and sometimes traveled with bodyguards. So if you’re looking for a prophet, you need look no further.
If you are a part of MCC churches, you are that prophet. God has called you. You are the voice of God.
And God needs your voice to be added to the thousands of other MCC voices which proclaim God's love and salvation for everyone.
The world seems to be desperate for a prophetic witness, and God has raised up prophets in the form of MCC churches.
May we continue to be that voice of God’s unconditional love and grace, and may we call out injustice wherever it is found, today and evermore. Amen.