This picture is of Ed Loring of the Open Door Community in Atlanta, GA, U.S.A – more on him later.
This past Sunday we focussed on the Gospel reading taken from Mark 3:20-35 – Jesus comes into conflict with the religious authorities who thinks he’s possessed by the Chief Demon, and his family who fear that all his hard work has driven him mad! In this story we see Jesus as prophet. His actions are speaking as, (if not even more) loudly than his words.
Our Monday night bible study group is looking at a series on Jeremiah, so prophesy is very much on our minds at the moment. One of the popular definitions of a prophet is one who, ‘speaks truth to power,’ and on Sunday I asked our congregation if they knew any modern-day prophets. Having just sprung this upon them, I didn’t get many answers – but not to worry because I can think of several and I shared my experience of living and working in a prophetic community – the one mentioned above. Ed, (pictured above), is one of the founders of the Open Door and he is, above all, a modern prophet. I told the congregation about the day I spent with him on the streets of Atlanta, or more accurately, just gave a couple of examples from one of the most memorable days of my life! I told how Ed would get up close and personal with his fellow passengers on the bus and demand to know from them, “Why isn’t the minimum wage a living wage?” and how those same passengers would do their best to shrink away and avoid eye-contact… and how he accosted an armed, off-duty Atlanta police officer who was working as a school crossing attendant, challenging her to explain why she was wearing a gun to help little children cross the street. Said police officer felt threatened enough to go into the school and bring out the Head Teacher to ‘get rid’ of him. Ed’s a wonderful person and I love him dearly, but he’s not an easy person to get along with – goes with the territory though – if you’re a prophet. Ed is a preacher and prophet. He confronts the powers that be with the truth that this is God’s world and in God’s world, it’s unjust that people work 2 or 3 jobs and are still unable to feed their families. In God’s world, little children shouldn’t be exposed to the trappings of violence and oppression. Ed embodies prophecy. He and the other members of his intentional community seek to live out God’s kingdom right here on earth – oh yeah, just like Jesus did!