Friday, 3 December 2010

Five Festive Fridays: Prophets

I thought I'd write my own little Christmas series, covering Five Festive Fridays (really because four or six wouldn't alliterate), giving a contemporary twist to major Advent or Christmas themes in the church.

First up is Prophets. Or perhaps 'are Prophets', given there were many of them. Already my Festive Friday is confused by English grammar.

Anyway, what are prophets and who are our prophets today?

My dictionary tells me they are someone who interprets or passes on the will of a deity; somebody who foretells the future; somebody who advocates a cause or idea; or somebody considered to be an inspired leader or teacher. [Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation.]

The common (secular) definition is that of telling the future, like soothsayers of old. When the prediction is right, the prophet is hailed and exalted; when it is wrong, they are slammed.

Much like weathermen. They try to foretell the future and are largely ignored if they get it right, but incidents like Michael Fish's famous dismissal of an impending hurricane are banded about as examples of their uselessness. And even if they get it right, knowing that there is more snow, more ice, more freezing temperatures (with Siberian wind-chill factor thrown in) doesn't win weather-forecasters friends.

My son has a tendency to add 'of doom' (much in the style of Private Frazer from Dad's Army) to any noun that passes his lips. 
'It's the DS of dooooom!'
'Are watching Strictly ... of doooooom?'
'Ah, but these are carrots of doooooooom...'

'Prophets of doom' is a phrase that is often banded about. I wonder if we pay most attention to the doom-mongers, rather than those that promise hope and joy and peace. I, for one, am much more inclined to go with those who say, 'It's only Day 1: see what it is like when England bat...' than with those who are already celebrating our Ashes victory!

Then again, yesterday England lost out on its bid to host the World Cup in 2018. And lost badly, by all accounts. Much has been hyped up in our media about it during the last few days, with great and growing confidence of winning. The Panorama programme on Monday, alleging bribery and corruption within FIFA, was feared to affect our vote; the violence at the Birmingham/Aston Villa match on Wednesday was possibly a more serious setback. Yet still our Press said that the bid was good, the presentation was excellent, if we could get past the first round we had a good chance.

Of course, we didn't get past the first round. And with it went the dreams of many, many people.

Were the press wise to build up our hopes? Or to waste our time on a triviality? After all, there are hundreds dying from AIDS each day, and World Aids Day this week was nowhere near so prominently marked. Are the Press (TV and print versions) our modern day prophets?

Or maybe it is the Bookmakers. After all, their clever calculations and statistics are able to put a price on the probability of something happening. Although I gather they lost out badly on the November announcement of the Royal Engagement (William & Kate). They are in the business to make money - and usually do! - so are they better prophets of what is to come and when?

In truth, none of us have crystal balls, which is why it is so amazing that there were prophets in the Old Testament who foresaw the birth of Christ. They also predicted his death. But the reason for celebrating Christmas, for having a Festive Friday - or any other Festive day - is to wonder at the birth of that baby boy.

For to us a child is born, 
   to us a son is given, 
   and the government will be on his shoulders. 
And he will be called 
   Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, 
   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 
Isaiah 9.6

1 comment:

Anna said...

Hi Catherine, I enjoyed this post on prophets. Amazing to think about all the prophecies of Christ's birth. They are one of the factors that convince me it's all true. And if they got all that right then the promises of eternity have got to be pretty spot on too.

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