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"Prophets and Where to Find Them" - Monday Moment - December 11, 2023

Happy Monday, my friends! We are in the church season called Advent, a time of preparation in the midst of the chaos of the world. When I was in college one of the chaplains would post signs around the chapel in all sorts of places—next to the mirror in the bathroom, inside closets in the sacristy, on the backside of the choir stalls—which read: “Quiet. Be still. It’s Advent.” Yet Advent rarely seems like a quiet time. We’re getting ready for Christmas, shopping, meeting friends, writing final papers, studying for exams, and doing all the little and big things that seem important right now. Few of us can ignore the sense of fear that hangs in the air this year. At home the Ohio General Assembly continues to consider bills that would fundamentally limit, if not outright remove, the freedoms of LGBTQIA+ people, particularly Transgender people. They considered three such bills at various stages of the process last week alone. Further away similar debates rage on in Washington, DC, while wars continue in Ukraine, Israel/Palestine, and elsewhere.


In the Gospel reading appointed for yesterday, a familiar character was presented to us as “John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And the whole Judean region and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him and were baptized by him in the River Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey” (Mark 1:4-6 NRSVue). John was a wild man by our standards, but in his day the presence of itinerant teachers living in the wilderness was not so uncommon. What was strange, perhaps even upsetting about John is that he was of the priestly class and the son of a respected and highly ranked priest. His appearance aside, he transgressed the social expectations of the people making him at once sensational and dangerous.


Prophets and prophetic messages often operate by the formula, “If you have to ask, you’ll never know. If you know, you need only ask.” Recently, I was sitting at my desk writing for class and a notification lit up my phone: BQIC was going live on Instagram. The Black Queer & Intersectional Collective (BQIC; https://bqic.net) is an organization in Central Ohio dedicated to achieving real and lasting change for Black Queer people. They are tenacious and when they speak I listen. Along with the voices of BQIC members, I also heard the voices of two white friends who spoke of solidarity and how the deaths of Black Trans people are deaths mourned by the whole Queer community and by God in whose image we all are created.


John the Baptist transgressed the social norms of his time. Transgender people, gender expansive people, and gender nonconforming people transgress the social norms of today. If you’re looking for prophets look no further than the Trans community. Look no further than the Black community. Look no further than the Black Trans community.


Where do you look for prophets? Where do you find prophets?


Let us pray: God, bless our modern-day prophets including those people you send us, those people who choose to stand up, and those who are forced into prophetic roles by their identities or circumstances. Support them and bolster their courage to speak even when their voices shake. We ask this in the name of Jesus, the greatest of prophets and our savior. Amen.


Blessings on your weeks, my friends! Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.


Faithfully,


Ben


PS. I’ve been watching the Harry Potter movies on repeat for the last two weeks. Please forgive my multiple quotes from the movies and books.

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