2 Kings 2:1-12, Transfiguration

The Company of Prophets

(Or, “The Captivating Phrase About Which I Did Not Preach.”)

What do you suppose it’s like to be in the company of prophets?

I know the point of the 2 Kings 2 passage on Transfiguration B is to remind us of the story of Elijah and the special nature of his relationship with God. It’s to remind us why he’s on the mountaintop with Moses and Jesus and why it should matter to Peter, James and John to see him.

But I keep rolling those words over in my mind, and even aloud, “the company of prophets.”

I’ll confess right now, I did no research on the phrase or the time or the people, although I’m sure that would be interesting. It’s the phrase itself that won’t let go of me. Suppose as the church we were called to be the company of prophets? Suppose we are meant to be transformed from regular citizens into prophetic voices?

This causes all kinds of problems for most American Christians. We are comfortable in our churches and like the way we’ve always done things. We don’t want to, for heaven’s sake, upset anyone, because we’ve internalized the advice given to Thumper:

But I imagine the company of prophets did not live by any such rule. And in the current climate, when the very name of our faith, Christian, is being used and, dare I say it, misused by those who think “nice” means turning the calendar back to a fictional past in which women devoted themselves exclusively to pregnancy and child-rearing, we don’t dare to be silent.

Over the weekend, I led the service remembering the life of a church member who lived to be 101. Born at a time when you placed a phone call, if you had a phone, through the operator, he lived to be someone whose cell number is saved in my iPhone. He was also born in a time when women had no voice at the polls yet, nor did they have a voice in many of our churches.

It happens that I baptized his great-granddaughter while serving in my first call at Small Church. She is now a poised young lady of seven. Her mother shared this story with me. Young E wanted to know why her family attends Small Church rather than the Catholic church where her other grandparents are members. Her mother explained that in the Catholic church women are not free to stand up and proclaim the Gospel. Young E responded, quite reasonably, “That’s not fair!!!” 

She gets it. And she gives me courage that there will continue to be a company of prophets to keep proclaiming the ways humankind confuses what matters, in our relationship with God and with others.

Last week, a senior member at my current call wrote a letter to the editor of the Portland paper, expressing frustration with an editorial cartoon claiming that there will be no marriage equality until the older generation dies off. 

I deeply resent the Steve Meyers editorial cartoon in the Feb. 5 Maine Sunday Telegram.
It implies that we older people are (1) all homophobic and (2) unable or unwilling to learn about and appreciate the differences in people and their lifestyles. I find that insulting.
Many of us as children or young adults had little knowledge of or contact (that we knew of) with the homosexual population. Now that homosexuality is out in the open and we have become acquainted with gay people, we realize that they are the same as everyone else and should have the same rights and privileges as everyone else. At least, some of us do.
I don’t think that we, the older population, are any different from everyone else, either. Some are against gay marriage and some are for it. To paint us all with the same brush is to depreciate our value as singular human beings.
Priscilla Brobst
(age 75 and still evolving)
North Yarmouth
Membership in the company of prophets is not age-sensitive. You only have to be willing to speak the truth, whether or not it’s nice in other people’s eyes. 
I’m not always that brave.
But Priscilla and Young E give me courage that there is still a company of prophets to be joined, to open our eyes to the prejudice we paper over by being “nice” and “polite,” and to remind us that in the realm of God we are neither old nor young, slave nor free, gay nor straight, male nor female, your race nor my race, but one human family in which the prophetic word is still needed, the Good News that God actually cares about all of us.
And that, in fact, asks a lot of us. And I’m afraid that right now the loudest self-proclaimed Christian voices don’t share that sentiment. They want a world as much like their version of the Old Testament as possible. If you think that means Ozzie and Harriet’s world, I commend to you a thorough reading of Genesis and Exodus and Leviticus and Numbers. I beg you to actually read your Bible so you know what people are talking about as well as the speakers know it themselves.
I ask you, and I ask myself, to think outside the book, the box of tradition, the ways of your grandparents, even, and remember that prophets go up against the establishment to make clear where the establishment is getting it wrong. 
Prophets move us forward to a new understanding, not backwards to an old way of doing things. 
I ask you, and I ask myself, would we join the company of prophets?
Here’s a pair of prophets I admire:


3 thoughts on “The Company of Prophets”

  1. I, too, like the way you think AND write. With all my shoulder rehab, I don't seem to have much thinking OR writing going on these days. Thanks that you keep it up!

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