HOPE: THE PROPHECY CANDLE
Hebrews 4:1-3a (NRSV)
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word.
The Bible is filled with prophetic messages from the complete books of seventeen prophets from Isaiah to Malachi, as well as from other prophets quoted elsewhere. The Old Testament prophets spanned hundreds of years- from about 760 BC until 450 BC- so their messages differed according to the situations of their time. Still, we find their messages are relevant today, as they encourage and embolden us to work for justice and equality, to care for the oppressed, and to obey God faithfully.
In my review of several resources, I was reminded that the prophets felt called to speak for God only as the deliverers of God’s message. Their words were from God and not their own, and often shared reluctantly. They were challenged to first speak realistically and critically of the brokenness of the current situation- and sometimes even of the further hardships that would result because of this brokenness- but then to always offer the gift of hope found in God’s promises for a better future.
The prophet has a tough calling. I would much rather just jump ahead to the hopeful, brighter future than to point out the realities, challenges, or brokenness around and within us. But think of people who were prophets for you. Perhaps you had a parent who disciplined your misbehavior but also demonstrated unconditional love and a better way to move forward. Perhaps you had a teacher who graded a paper critically but encouraged you to keep working because you demonstrated talent. I think of Dr. Phibbs, who had to tell me the harsh reality of my cancer, but followed that with the hope-filled steps we would take to heal me.
As people of faith, there are times when we too, are called to be prophets. There are times when we must speak up in defense of the oppressed, to name injustice, to point out wrongdoing. To remain silent is to contribute to the problem. Like the prophets, we must first address the issues by “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), but we must also speak of the hope that is to come, the hope that has already come to live among and within us. We must help everyone to keep looking and moving to a brighter future.
Light the First Candle, the Prophecy Candle.
Today we especially think about the prophecies that were made long ago, promising us of a coming Savior. We now know that the promise came true with the birth of Jesus! Jesus came as a Savior not only for the people of his time, but for all of us. We thank Jesus for his continuing promises to us- his promises to always be with us through the Spirit, to give us all we need for each new day, and to grant us life forever.
PROMISES OF HOPE
The prophets spoke both truth and hope so many years ago;
Their promising yet painful words still resonate today.
What do the prophets say to us? God, help us to know
How we may listen, learn to grow-
And follow in your way.
Prayer: Holy God, in our time of Advent waiting, help us to listen. Reveal to us what we need to change, remind us of the future we have in you, and inspire us to be messengers of help and hope for others. Your grace-filled love is our greatest hope. Amen.