RECLAIMING THE GIFT OF PROPHETIC PREACHING
Sr. Brenda Walsh, Racine Dominican
The call to reclaim the gift of prophetic
preaching reminds us that the effort is intended to challenge the
status quo and to nurture peace and justice in the lives of the
Some pastors and church leaders from various
denominations are asking how they can reclaim the gift and offer
tools to their members to restore and live prophetic preaching.
People hear so much about what is going on in our world and there is
very little good news. People on the fringes of life are also
calling out for life and survival assistance, and are hoping that
congregational leaders and members will speak clearly about the
issues and put their words into action.
Prophetic preaching was always a concern of the
Dominican Order Dominic, our Founder, left us with a mission of
being ambassadors for Christ and to work at implementing God’s plan
in our time and place. He reminded us of that when he confronted
untruth and challenged it boldly, he did so without counting the
Compassion for the poor of his time was very
evident in his life and we are called and challenged to do the same.
Reliance on God’s Word and the power of the Spirit guided him in
accomplishing the task at hand. He always endeavored to follow the
Gospel way of life, sharing God’s mercy with all humankind and
especially with those troubled mentally, physically or spiritually.
One example was when he found a man about to be taken into slavery,
he offered himself in exchange for the man in this situation He was
ready to become enslaved for the sake of another, using Jesus as a
model of mercy and compassion.
The Gospel requires us to be advocates for people
in dire situations and to reject the common myths about people in
poverty. It also calls us to look at our own lifestyles and let the
pain of others touch us. Then we will be able to hold up and live
more clearly God’s plan for all people.
WHAT IS PROPHETIC PREACHING?
Prophetic Preaching calls us to challenge the
status quo, pointing out where things have gone wrong and bringing
God’s vision for our world to the fore and pointing out how ordinary
people of all ages and conditions can become involved and be part of
the solution. Pulpit preaching must be based on God’s Word and God’s
vision for our world and promote a just and peaceful society. We
need to let the suffering of people get inside of us and stand in
solidarity with the poor. Then we can call people to action. This
will include concern for the many injustices of our day, such as
human trafficking, AIDS, on- going wars, corporate corruption, the
need for immigration reform and many more. We also need to speak
clearly and convincingly about the wrongs involved and then move to
action. All can be included in the prayers of the congregation.
These responses may frequently bring us into
conflict with society but we cannot let that deter us from
accomplishing our mission. This is often an issue with pastors who
may fear losing their income and their membership and even their
pastoral position. The Word of God will sustain us through the
struggles and with the power of God "we will be able to do
infinitely more than we dare ask or imagine."
DO WE ALWAYS HAVE TO DO PROPHETIC PREACHING?
There are times when the preacher needs to be
pastoral, listening to the pain and stresses of the congregational
members and bringing them comfort and hope and guiding them gently
into God’s comforting care. There are also many occasions when
prophetic preaching can be done and with good results. We need a
renewed interest in prophetic preaching today in order to address
the injustices all around us and to challenge the status quo.
All members of the congregations and organizations
can include in their prayers and responses, the many needs of
individuals and of our society. If we don’t feel ready for the
awesome task, we can count on God’s Word to empower us and sustain
us every step of the way.
Our life itself will be a preaching and not just
the words we speak. This approach will keep us hopeful and sustain
our efforts to keep God’s wonderful plan for all people before our
eyes Then there will be no strangers in our midst, only friends we
have not yet met. Let us begin today with courage, conviction and