Sunday, December 16, 2007

full stop on stoning the prophets

For the last 12 weeks we’ve been Stoning the Prophets. While we have preached the prophets in the morning, we have also offered a time to gather every week at 5:30 pm to hear the prophet read aloud, from Hosea to Malachi. Once the reading is complete, we have played a music track, giving space to reflect. Then we’ve picked up a stone and invited people to reflect on what struck us as we heard the prophet read. We have concluded with the Lords Prayer.

Never more than 20 people, never less than 10. A group of regulars, mixed in with different people.

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Today, after stoning the prophet Malachi, I invited reflection on what struck us, not only about Malachi, but about the entire 12 prophets. Here are the comments:

- God really, really cares. God would do anything to help them Israel come back.
- I struggle when someone else reads. I don’t hear very well. So I read the prophet as we go else I lose the thread. God spoke to me through each book. That’s amazing to me, that God speaks through the Bible every time.
- the minor prophets are so God-centric, so about what God will do.
- simplicity of what God is asking -justice and rightliving. It is simple yet seems so very difficult to live.
- I have so appreciated the patterns and rhythms of each book and over the 12 minor prophets. And the visual pictures – of flying scrolls and plumblines – such good use of words.
- Never know what God’s going to throw at you and this is seen in the minor prophets. God deals with each prophet in such different ways. We need to be real and trust God when stuff is thrown at us.
- the hardness of faith, of these 400 years of time, of the prophet’s message.
- in hard times, the promises of God were always present. God’s covenant is so present in these books.
- it was easier to listen as the weeks have gone on. It’s been a discipline. It has made me go back and follow up on each book and that’s been good.
- it’s been very bold. I’ve never heard of a church attempt to do this. To hear the Word has been good.
- So many phrases we sing in church come from the minor prophets. It’s not just the Psalms that shape the worship life of the church.

So, would I do it again? Absolutely. It got us talking together about God and life. It gave a new appreciation of the Bible as literature. It affirmed the need for awareness of historical context. It allowed all voices to speak, from 10 year olds, to new Christians, to seasoned saints. We so easily approach the Bible through the sermon, in which one voice interprets a text and so it becomes very worthwhile to engage the Bible by hearing and sharing in community. And that stretched us and asked new questions of how we as a church engage Scripture.

It is hard to sustain every week. So we will probably be back after Easter, linked with a series I want to run titled Pictures of Biblical witness, exploring not a Bible book, but a theme developed through Scripture.

Thanks to everyone who came, to the readers and to Pete and Joyce for the gift of the space.

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For more on Stoning the prophets: hearing Nahum, a description of the space, the initial concept and the advertising.

Posted by steve at 09:22 PM

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