The prophetic word engenders change.
At our New Year celebration on December 31st, our main Jesus Army leader told us that the coming year would be a year of 'courageous faith and action'. He proceeded to unpack this with reference to courageous biblical heroes like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, thrown into a furnace for refusing to bow to a mad king's statue, or Eleazar, who fought on when all his fellows fled. As we trust God and act on that trust, we will advance as a church.
Yes, 'courageous faith and action' could be a mere slogan. Yet I do believe it's prophetic for us - mainly because I trust the integrity of the man who brought it to us. (We're blessed with a main leader who is both spiritual and humble - good qualifications for being a conduit of God's 'now' word.)
Another leader, a mentor of mine, commented that 'Courageous faith and action' is certainly better than 'Action and hope for the best', which he confessed has sometimes been his approach.
The fact is that genuine prophetic words bring real change. Last night, at our little local Agape meal, I spoke a little about what 'courageous faith and action' may mean for us - in particular, being true to our radical call. So we explored Acts 2 again, and what it means to be 'devoted' - to word, fellowship, sacrament and worship (Acts 2:42). It produced some truly hearty discussion and a sense of change in the air for the coming year.
I think if I'd just chosen my own topic it wouldn't have been quite the same. As a pastor I've learnt that something's released when I support and unpack the word of the prophets.
So I'm looking forward to 2012. God, grant us courageous faith - and the courage to put it into action.