A Call To Prophetic, Visionary Life

“…they sell the needy for [the price of] a pair of sandals,
they who trample the head of the poor in the dust…”
Amos 2:6b,7a

Amos roars in anger. Shabby treatment of those who were vulnerable took place in his time, it has been a recurring tragedy down through history, and, our own era cannot always claim a much better record.

“I know I just get crumbs
from a rich man’s table.”
[Resident]

“They say I bring
down property values.”
[Resident]

“I don’t need hatred,
I need tender care.”
[Resident]

In Smart’s poem Jeoffry is commissioned to be a guardian against “the adversary”! (And there are still plenty of those skulking about today.) Give a listen to this roaring portrayal of Jeoffry by Erika Baempfer Deery.

Jeoffry is no fluffy little fireside kitty. He is protector. He roars against forces of neglect, contempt, degrading language, inflicted material poverty, and inflicted social isolation.

So the prophetic rant continues, as it must.

“What do you mean by crushing my people,
by grinding the faces of the poor?
Says the Lord God of Hosts.”
Isaiah 3:15

“You have turned justice into poison.” Amos 6:12b

Down the centuries God’s people have taken up the call to war against forces which degrade and further injure those who are already hurting. This is no small matter. This is not easy or simple, and it is not empty bellowing. But it can be done well. There are clever people in our churches, Christians with communication skills, nerve and conscience and they might choose to roar. Jeoffry would be pleased.

As we continue to explore “the adversary”, one of the saddest forms of injustice happens when a vulnerable person is consigned to isolation.

they “…push the afflicted out of the way…” Amos 2:7b

“They just dump you. It’s neglect, neglect, neglect!” [Resident]

Indeed, we might notice how society so often turns the familiar phrase, out of sight, out of mind around – and now, brutally, it can become:

“out of mind –
out of sight”

Neglect is truly a form of violence.

Such ‘avoidance’ or ‘abandonment’ or ‘violent neglect’ is going on in our towns and cities. It is going on right now. It is going on within shouting distance of many of our churches. People may end up being left in social poverty in houses where there is no strong connection.

Maybe communion is the highest form of justice?

Here is where small group community ministry can really shine. If you and some friends move out from your church building and joyfully establish committed relations with the people of these homes then an important thing happens: the church of Jesus commits an act of insurrection. So be it. Creating new spiritual unions is a glorious affirmation of our belief in God’s unifying love, and is an open act of rebellion against a society which toasts productivity, wealth, status, prospects, and fame and often tosses out those who do not have them.

Team members and their churches have a responsibility beyond the visits. The prophetic church of Jesus is called to open insurrection against any horrid treatment of humanity.

God desires a generous, gentle, compassionate community:

“You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your strength,
and with all your mind,
and your neighbour as yourself.”
Luke 10:27

Jeoffry: “For having considered God and himself,
he will consider his neighbour.” Lines 28,29

Still more, the prophetic Christian life consists not only of pointed speech and new unions. Here are further goals which we would like to see flourish in any community.

Prophetic Visionary Living Aspires To:

see with a focused, unflinching attention, and,
by eyes of faith,
discern the sustaining presence of God
which swirls about us at all times

“For I perceived God’s light about him {Jeoffry}
Both wax and fire.
For the electrical fire is the spiritual substance
Which God sends from heaven
To sustain the bodies both of man and beast.”
Lines 112-116

Pastoral ministry cannot thrive without a wide, generous, mystical vision. Diane Hutchings shows us the fire of God’s creative love boiling around Jeoffry – and these clouds of love sustain life in cats and humans!

She leads us into the delightful, witty realm of mystic vision. This is worthy of Blake and of all who move navigate through both the visible and invisible. We are called to move freely in each of these realms.

Mystic vision is once again an act of insurrection. It wars against the common, blunted, tragically limited, every-day squint of the world. It sees more in Spirit. It dares to view those who have so often been sorely rejected as being surrounded by LOVE and is indeed an act of rebellion against the world’s tawdry assessment.

And so it runs, our ministry hopes that not only will teams of church visitors join with the residents of boarding homes but join with a new vision and a new language.

In closing,
it is our prayer that as new friends are made,
and new holy communions are created,
spiritual experience with broaden,
and people will be encouraged,
and by the sharing of love,
God and neighbour will be
well considered, and well served.