Who is in and who is out? Who is acceptable and who is not? How can they do that? Who gave them the authority to speak that way? Why doesn’t the bishop stop them? Why doesn’t the Pope step in to stop them from speaking that way?
These are all comments we have heard many times in the past. We may think they are only spoken today as our church is going through a pivotal time in transition from a hierarchy controlled church to the People of God. However in today’s readings we hear very similar concerns expressed by some people thousands of years ago.
In the first reading from the Book of Numbers we hear, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp, Moses my Lord stop them”.
In the Gospel we read, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us. Jesus replied, do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.”
One of the many themes in the readings today centers on the issue of prophesy. What is “prophecy” and who can “prophesy”? At times in the secular press we hear “predictions” of sporting events and future political outcomes of elections, even the weather is predicted. Sports writers, politicians, and weather forecasters all use scientific tools in their trade. Prophecy does not have anything to do with these things at all.
A prophet is a person who has been chosen by God to speak God’s word both in season and out of season. Some people try to limit the vastness of God and that the wisdom of God is all inclusive and excludes no one. In the Book of Numbers we heard this morning Moses saying, “Would that ALL the people of the Lord were prophets. Would that the Lord might bestow His Spirit on them ALL”. And from the Gospel of Mark, “There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who at the same time can speak ill of me”. The God of the Old Testament and the Jesus in Mark’s Gospel does not preclude anyone from speaking in God’s name---from being a “prophet”; from “prophesying”.
Jesus’ challenge to us is one of inclusiveness. To meet this challenge we must be willing to give up preconceived ideas and judgments to the openness of God. We must be willing to accept the Spirit manifested in whomever, whenever, and wherever.
Both Eldad and Medad of the Old Testament, although not in the inner circle, were given the same spirit of God as others. The people casting out demons in the name of Jesus also were not in the inner circle. Some were jealous of those speaking in the name of God.
At times we get caught in the power and control cycle and we only accept those we feel we can control. In today’s language we hear the urging to “Not kill the messenger”. John did not see the miracles being worked by God in the driving out of the demons. John did not see how God works through many people. John did not see that God gives many gifts to many people.
Do you have ears to hear? Do you have eyes to see? Do you “listen” to everyone and thus hear what God may be speaking to you? Do you “see” everything and experience the presence of God all around you? Yes, God does speak through many people in many various ways and times. God calls many today to be “prophets in our time”—to speak in God’s name. Jesus told John to not prevent the person who was driving out the demons in God’s name.
This morning we are honored to have with us one of the “prophets of our time”. We have with us a person who heard God calling to her. Like Samuel of the Old Testament she has responded: “Speak Lord your servant is listening, I have come to do your will.” We have a person who said YES to this call and never turned away despite pressure from those who did not hear the same call from God that she heard. We welcome a person whom God has called to priesthood; whom God has asked to speak in God’s name. We welcome Rev. Kathy Vandenberg.
Who is God putting in your presence today to speak to you? Do you hear God in today’s prophets? Is God calling you to be a prophet, to speak in God’s name?
Take the time to LISTEN to God speaking to you. The message you hear may change your life!