Prophetic imagination, or prophetic dreaming, keeping visions alive, is what stimulates diverse groups forming society into becoming a culture of life, a biophilic, life-loving culture, to use an ecological term. It is also an authentic dimension of being and becoming Church. Together with the power of dangerous memory, these two activities are at the heart of a theology of hope. For prophetic imagination is outrageous—not merely in dreaming the dream, but in already living out of the dream before it has come to pass, and in embodying this dream in concrete actions.
Mary C Grey: The Outrageous Pursuit of Hope
Some say it is the end of Christendom, that the vessel we call " church " has been taking on water for years, and despite our attempts to bail and keep her afloat, she is sinking and being consumed by the world and culture she floats in.
I could make a list of the self-help projects we've done, and are still doing to make church attractive...but, I wonder. Have we as faith communities lost our power of dangerous memory. We've lost the reality, that our story is mysteriously weaved in the lines and between the lines of God's story. Somehow there is a disconnect, a radical editing, writing our own stories...more like a reality TV show as we fumble from episode. But it need not be that way.
How many churches spend time in the words of the Old Testament prophets? It's there we find our dangerous memory. It is dangerous because it always involved change, and because we have so much invested in the old way of life.
As faith communities we tend to live inside our comfort zones. We put our trust in what we've built, even sacred things like our faith communities. I'm not saying church is bad, I'm saying when we live in dangerous memory, we dream and live the prophetic and redemptive imagination of God. Ironically when Jesus first calls his disciples it wasn't away of something bad. They were probably family guys try to make an honest living. But Jesus calls them into the redemptive imagination of God's Kingdom.
So we return to the words of the prophet. Ultimately the prophet could be called God's decontructionists. So if we think about decontructing church, it might be wise to return to the dangerous memory of the prophets words. They had the uncanny ability to stand above the faith communities time line and see its past, present and future. Through the imagination of God, like radical street poets there words creatively revealed the communities life in the stories of the past, the darkness of the present, and the glory of a yet to be lived future. It leads the community into repentance, redirection, reconstruction...to let go of fear and find grace...and return.
"The Lord is exalted", proclaims Isaiah. " He dwells on high; he filled Zion with justice and righteousness." ( 33:5 )
" I am the Lord " announces Jeremiah in the name of God. " I act with steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight." ( 9:24 )
Again Isaiah, " Is such the fast I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and lie is a sack cloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this fast that I choose; to break the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? ( 58:5-7 )
From Micah, " He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. ( 6:6-8 )
Lastly from Amos, " I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. ( 5:21-24 )
More than ever faith communities need to recover their dangerous memory, reboot the hard drive and go back to the prophetic imagination of God. We can continue the crazy reality TV show of deconstruct and reconstruct, change for the sake of change...religion for religion's sake.
Recovering our dangerous memory will always lead us to the hope and reality of God's Kingdom. We become his people, heirs, the community that dreams and reveals, redeems, restores...and builds His kingdom on earth now.