Go up to the average person in the pew and ask for a definition of a prophet. Chances are you will get one of two responses.
1. The prophet is a social reformer. They have much to say about the social, economic, political, and religious abuses of the times in which they lived. At the same time, to call the prophets simply social reformers is not enough.
2. The prophet is one who predicts the future. The prophets do have many things to say about the future, especially words of judgment and promise, but “announce” or “proclaim” would be better.
Let me suggest this definition: A prophet is a man or woman dispatched by God with a word of judgment or promise for a critical moment in the history of God’s people. What word from God do people need to hear?
Today we remember Elizabeth Fedde, deaconess, who died in 1921. This message was adapted from “What is a Prophet?” by Terence E. Fretheim that appeared in the March 1998 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine.