A glass of water...
Jeremiah and Hananiah are both prophets, but they have different approaches. Jeremiah and his predecessors were very much the ‘glass half empty’ kind – telling their listeners the people have gone astray and as a result there have been wars, famines, pestilence...
Whereas Hananiah (whose Hebrew name translates as ‘God is gracious’) looks forward to a day of peace.
It is of course much easier for the listener to like Hananiah, whereas Jeremiah and his colleagues would have been less well received.
Nobody likes to be judged, or hear bad news. We all much prefer to hear the good tidings. And so the bearer of the news – good or bad - is received accordingly... and likewise the message. Time and time again, through the Old Testament, the prophets and patriarchs tried to point people back to God... and yet they kept straying again. We may see them as a failure. Or we may see them as trying against all probability of human nature, to go back to the fundamentals of the law “love the lord with all your heart and all your strength and all your soul and love your neighbour as yourself.”... this kept falling on deaf ears. I wonder, to what extent do we blame our prophets, or ourselves?
We hear, but do we listen?
The Gospel passage picks up this theme. Jesus is asking his disciples, what kind of prophet do you want to be? How will the way you present yourself and your faith impact on how you are received by others, and most importantly, the message you are sent to proclaim?
Jesus says first, be welcomed. By anyone. Follow his example of hospitality in the gospels – allow yourself to be welcomed by even those you would normally steer clear of, or just happen not to mix with. Whoever welcomes a disciple, welcomes Jesus, and therefore God. Being welcomed means being included in God’s kingdom where all are welcomed together into God’s family.
And then Jesus says just as you are welcomed, welcome others. Give even just a cup of water to someone – offer that tiny gesture of kindness – and your reward also is being welcomed into the Kingdom of God, in that action. We may think about this literally or metaphorically - Do we give to the thirsty? Do we try to reduce our impact on our hotting-up environment? Do we mop the brow of someone sick? Do we wipe away the tears of someone grieving? Do we quench the fire of hatred? Do we need to throw it in the face of injustice to wake us up?
Maybe these actions will be well received by those around us – or maybe they won’t. Sometimes the reward of doing the right thing isn’t always immediate, we may well still have to go through all the earthly trials. But our actions inspired buy our faith is how we are made visible to others as disciples of Jesus. This is how we stand out as prophets in our own time and way. Then other people may see just how relevant our faith is today. It may be 2000 years old, and ‘Church’ may have been less visible recently... but we still proclaim, like Hananiah, God is Gracious - through our own actions.
So are you a glass half empty or a half full prophet?
Or maybe we could also ask another question?
Maybe Jesus also invites us to think, what is it that you do with that glass of water?