St Matthews Digital
Lent and Easter 2015
01 March 2015
Being a prophet
George Armstrong reflects on the nature of Jesus as prophet through the lens of his own work encouraging to the church to respond to its prophetic call in Aotearoa in recent decades.
Rev Dr George Armstrong
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Being a prophet
A prophet is someone who tells something forth.
Rather than literally predicting something before it happens.
Jesus in today's Gospel tells his disciples what is going to happen in Jerusalem in the next few days.
He's only telling them what they should already see for themselves. Nothing mysterious or Supernatural about it.
Jesus tells them that he's going to Jerusalem.
Jerusalem spells in big trouble, why? Because Jesus is a big-time trouble of everything that Jewish l'm stands for in Jesus time.
The son of man, Jesus of himself, the son of man must suffer, many things and be rejected of the elders and of the chief priests and scribes and be killed.
Or as it's better translated be killed. Be accomplished his Exodus.
That's how it's put in the Transfiguration.
And after three days lies again.
Jesus has been increasingly attacking the temple, its priests and the political economy that it supports and often off, which it fattens itself outrageously.
It's you will part of the oppressive apparatus of government and economy all bound together by a religion gone badly astray, and totally manipulated by the brutal Arch politician. He rode the great, the king of the Jews who died when Jesus was just a toddler.
Jesus is only just congratulated before this exchange. He just congratulated Peter for his insight into the fact that Jesus is the true Messiah.
Now, Peter freaks out at the prospect of Jerusalem lying. Just ahead and Jesus rounds on him. Get behind me.
You Satan you It's become more and more clear than Jesus, and his disciples. When push comes to shove, they live in different worlds.
And it's the world of Jesus. That's the real world. The world where Injustice and evil triumphs and good. People are put down and put out and were anyone who tries to do something about it, get snuffed out by Homeland Security and the Empire Beyond Jesus was only one of many Messiahs who tried to remedy things in those days. Many of these other Messiahs were religious terrorists, unlike Jesus violent Messiah savior's, almost, all of them ended up crucified or murdered the temple archbishop's.
And I, Al eventually concluded that Jesus style of loving, messiahship, was even more dangerous.
Dangerous and the violent type, especially when Jesus publicly condemned the leadership and started a riot around the money changes.
And seem to be sitting up a sort of pot, very popular half, mocking counter Kingdom of his own. His carefully staged triumphal entry into Jerusalem was a kind of mockery of an Augustus Caesar or King Herod. The Great entering a city with their motorcades in the asylum.
Show Jesus, tells it like it is and like, is about to be all in one breath, and Peter, doesn't like it, one bit. Jesus foretells his own death. And he foretells. Also, in his own death, the death of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, which also happened 40 years later.
And that didn't require Supernatural for side either. Jesus like any decent profit had, uh, nearing in Tenney for the signs of the times. He could interpret the historical political economic and cycle events and activities that were going on around him, and he did it in religious as well as material. And you might say political scientific terms.
But you did it in sexual terms to sub speaky. A aeterna top that says, even in the mirror of Eternity, should many theists preaches have for several years now, I've been happily stripping away the old super naturalist wallpaper trying to give back to the basics that that Supernatural lingo was trying to Bear witness to. So my rendering here this morning my rather see kilo rendering of Jesus. The prophet will come as no surprise to the Saint Matthews congregation.
Jesus cousin, John the Baptist munching his Locust and honey muesli in the desert. She had that he himself was no Messiah. He was no more than a voice crying in the wilderness.
For poor old, Elijah whom Baptist, John. The Baptist was very aware of in his own Ministry. For Elijah, that little voice in the desert mountain was not in an earthquake or a firestorm, but in a still Small Voice, telling the understandably reluctant Prophet to go back and Converse politely or impolitely with his significant other.
Formidable, Queen Jezebel, who was being cheated of her trunk conjugal rights and who was thirsting for the prophets blood?
And just after this little bruising conversation with Peter, Jesus took his own quaking disciples up his own prophetic Desert Mountain as well. Transfiguration Mountain to get away from it all. So they thought mistakenly as usual It's Transfiguration time. Then on the mountain, though, the long-dead Elijah and the long-dead Moses Champion survivors of the desert situation. They appear to talk things over with the soon-to-be dead. Jesus. This is no me a table wrapping sounds though there's only one item on the agenda. The so-called Exodus that Jesus is about to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Also, you, these prophetic Giants had multiple exoduses and liberation's and freedom fighting's in their bones, spiritually, as well as politically.
This a dash. I push the quaking ones. Gradually, got their Spirits back up.
But when Jesus said time to go, they wanted to stay no way you said Jesus.
Now, let me come now to the second part of the sermon, he from the sublime, you might say to the ridiculous.
The year is 1975.
And when I was nineteen seventy five years past the time of Jesus. Anyway and is now Auckland 50 years ago actually I think I've got my arithmetic right? Here's another Trio. Far from a Holy One, this time, a symbols Kid, Michael has just arrived from Australia to be Vickers and Matthews. John, Mulaney later also an illustrious Vicar of this illustrious Parish John and I were Dinkum kiwis having been students together at Saint John's earlier. I had just come myself from for quickfire Parish assignments in Dunedin and Christchurch to become a lecturer in systematic theology at Saint John's College.
We see young Patriarchs were expected to turn the church upside down and inside out. We were respected after a fashion though. Not always exactly popular. I learned a huge amount from having to fit in with Ted and John.
Only on one thing. Did we fully agree? But that one thing was a revelation to me after a trance figurative day together. At the clevedon, vicarage, we concluded that it was not actually our job as clergy was not our job ourselves to do, the prophetic work of the church for it, but to help the whole church to do its own prophetic work itself.
As a community. Now there's a big difference in what I just seen, and it's not as easy as it sounds.
For myself, I went on to actually extend the single idea that. So blue, my mind on that day and has done so ever since I concluded after much theological whistling what everybody probably knows because it's only common sense. I concluded that our job as total church was not actually to be prophet and priest to the world.
A job was to help the whole of humanity, be prophet and priest for the world. And for the church, Now, what I'll just see it as a kind of monstrous shorthand, and I'll have to tune to the experience briefly of the 1960s, which includes the 1970s and half of the 1980s as well. So it's a bit of a misnomer, but never mind. So I have to turn to The Poets and artists sacred or profane to explain about more In the 1960s which many of you familiar from, don't go and experience anyway when we know spring chickens. So in the 1960s, reality, in Divine reality seemed to have deserted an unreal and failing church and to be reappearing in very different Garb in totally worldly situations.
From the Beatles, on out of anyone's control. The words of the prophets turned out written, not in sermons in churches, but on subway walls.
Curiously the churches at that time. Anyway, to their great credit started to realize that our Jesus was deserting our sanctuaries. The same way as people were departing from the pews.
The Catholic, the Catholic Church's Vatican to council, for example, strive mightily to lay out, what might be the mode of a new church in the modern world, perhaps the greatest document produced in that amazing Council.
The Anakin Mission meet leader.
On the side of the Heretics, over in the United Kingdom, the Anglican missionary leader. Max Warren, told the world Anglican Congress of that time in Toronto, in Canada, that you needed to have the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.
Tired, ashada declared that when the two realities God and the world meant together. Everything burst into Flame.
Bonhoeffer said we had to stop expecting Christ to come to us as a powerful rescuer.
Christ said Bonhoeffer was in the world struggling as well as the others struggling struggling to preserve that world and Christians had to get in there with him.
Bond of a knew what he was talking about. He was jailed by Hitler and executed by Hitler's Express order in the last days of the 1939, 45 war and our own Lloyd, gearing to whom, I'd quite like to dedicate this sermon this morning. It was his birthday during this last week. Our own Lord gearing said it was time to strip away their Supernatural and be honest about what we didn't believe the church, expelled him, the secular world And honored him.
And now for me for me ten years after tea and and John in 1974, another magical Trio appeared. You sort of seems to go in threes that doesn't always work. Mathematically like that but we shall write for the sermon but another magical Trio appeared and myself this time on the periphery a fourth one. Look On, in a way.
It's in John's College. Another young Trio of students emerged, and wondrous groups group. Actually of young Patriarchs in the making Allowed no longer though by their womenfolk to remain Patriarchs. They endured the college educational regime for six months, the in declared direct action in shaping their own education. Curriculum pedagogy assessment could Chilling. The lat, they were not Rebels, they just sit out on The Road, Less Traveled. That's the way they sure.
At the moment of the decision.
I felt almost a trance figuring light around the three of them. I kid you. Not with my shiny new Princeton PhD. Saint, John's College put me in charge of this Trio.
I'm writing my book about knitting around the 1960s 1965 to 1985 to be more precise. I think that that period still has to fulfill itself. It was a prophetic 20 years for New Zealand, like a good profit actually stating the obvious.
There are hot button issues everywhere and I had my strangely enough, God knows how it happened. I had my fumbling finger on several of these brush buttons and more than my finger. I tell you got burnt. There was the Vietnam War when we took placards into the holy Good Friday. Procession placard saying Christ died for the Vietcong Christ died for anzacs.
Paul Bishop priest had by his scandalized Burgers up. The front of the procession had to ask the police to remove us.
And then there was we created a thin, Santa Claus, the following Christmas.
And we joined in with Tim shed, bolts, 10,000, strong Liberation, Army of Albert Park. The in the was theological and other education is I've just referred to with the other Trio of students. And then, of course, there's a great success story, the nuclear warships and New Zealand. That one really stuck. It still seems to be there despite the prison prime minister and his antics.
And then, of course, there was the mountain bike. Again, the new outbreak of the Civil War that had come with the shitler wars earlier. I refer to the Springbok tour and rugby was just the right thing to have a good Civil War over. We're still seem to be suffering from the The soreness of, that can't quite understand it, but still, but still today, underneath all the neoliberal, the neoliberal lingo and posturing still today, we're struggling with the same underlying issues. As were bought out. Crystal clear through the 60s is still with us. Thank God.
John Mullane and Ted Baco a dead now.
But they are with me every Sunday here.
And I've been discussing the sermon with them and this past week.
the congregation can join in this discussion later this morning after a cup of tea, there's so much more, but for now, Amen.