Thought for the Day by Adriaan van Klinken (All Hallows)
Each other’s prophets
At first sight, there’s very little that our readings for today have in common. In the book of Kings, we read about Solomon building a temple for God, using lots of gold and other beautiful decorations. In the book of Acts, we read about the leaders of the early church being concerned about developments among Christians in Antioch. They sent two representatives, Judas and Silas, with a letter of warning.
Although very different in context and content, both readings remind us that holiness – of a temple, a church, and believers – cannot be taken for granted. It requires constant attention, care and investment of resources.
I was struck by the line in the reading from Acts, which says that Judas and Silas were well-received in Antioch: “being themselves prophets, they said much to encourage and strengthen the believers.”
The letter which the two men carry with them appears to be of a rather moralising tone: “You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.” Yet once they have arrived, they apparently strike a different tone: not just reinforcing the do’s and don’ts, but delivering messages of encouragement that strengthen the believers in their faith.
They could do so, because they are prophets. Prophets are not moral police officers – they do not control whether you follow the latest government guidelines and report you in case of a trespass. Prophets remind us of the bigger picture, of the things that really matter; they bring us back to the basics of faith and truth.
Who are the prophets in our midst today, and how do they encourage us? Also, how could we be a prophet to others, to fellow believers in our church community and in society?
Only when we pay attention to each other, care for one another, and invest our resources in our communal well-being, we can grow in the direction that God wants us to be.