At the Gate: Imagineers

Sitting at the gate, I see how life is enriched by imagination. Living about halfway between Disney World and the Kennedy Space Center, I follow the news media which is ripe with stories that chronicle the ventures of those who boldly go where none have gone before. The dreamers and planners are sometimes called “Imagineers”–those who envision things and have the will to bring them to pass.

What I have come to realize is that theme park designers and space explorers are only the latest version of people who can see into current reality and then gaze through it into “something more.” Imagination is the soil in which the future is conceived.

In the biblical tradition, we are talking about the prophets, God’s imagineers, the women and men who conjoined contemplation and action so that the world could increasingly become what God intends for it to be.

I am writing about this today because I want to remind you that Richard Rohr’s 2023 Daily Meditations are themed “The Prophetic Path.” Only two meditations have come out, and it is clear that he will be leading us in a rich journey. I hope you are already reading his meditations. If not, the 2023 “Prophetic Path” series is a good time to begin doing so.

As God’s Imagineers, the prophets entered a stagnant, sacred-cow status quo and declared there is another way to live, a way in which love prevails and the common good is enacted. They called out sin, called for repentance, and called forth hope. [1] They did this from the reservoir of their deep communion with God. [2]

Abiding in the heart of God, they saw what a world conformed to God’s heart would look like–a Beloved Community in which people “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8), where they love God and others (Matthew 22:34-40), doing good to “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40) through the cultivation of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

All this became crystal clear in Jesus, the Word made flesh, who used the words of a prophet (Isaiah) to let people know he would be a prophet too, with the Spirit of the Lord upon him, anointing him “to bring Good News to those who are poor…to proclaim liberty to those held captive, recovery of sight to those who are blind, and release to those in prison–to proclaim the year of our God’s favor” (Luke 4:18, The Inclusive Bible)

We have our marching orders: to walk the prophetic path–to follow God’s imagineers, and become so ourselves.

[1] I am indebted to Walter Brueggemann for teaching the prophetic tradition in nearly all his books. His book, ‘Journey to the Common Good’ has become an oft-consulted resource.

[2] I am grateful to Matthew Fox for teaching that prophets are first and foremost mystics. His book, ‘Prayer, a Radical Response to Life’ shows how this is so.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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