As a church, we have been in a season of learning about power: how it works, how to see it, and what to do with it. Mostly, we have been learning to reckon with our own power and privilege as a predominantly white, middle-class church.
It’s much easier for those outside of the cultural power structure to identify who has power and how it affects them, so a huge part of our journey as a church has been learning to see power in our own stories. As we have begun to learn to see power — how it is at work in society, establishments, and in ourselves – naturally we have started to wonder what comes next. Seeing is only the beginning, and I believe God is inviting us into a season of learning what to do with this realization.
This past Sunday we read about David officially becoming King of Israel, Paul bragging about his weakness, and Jesus being unable to perform miracles in his hometown. In each of these passages, there is something disorienting going on with power. Most kings don’t start out as shepherds. Nevertheless, God chose David as king. Paul oscillates back and forth between saying if he wanted to boast in his qualifications and abilities, he could, but insisting that he’ll only boast in his weakness because that’s where God’s power is perfected in him! Jesus’ hometown is scandalized by his teaching because they have known him his whole life, and he moves directly into empowering the disciples and sending them out in pairs!
God is upending our assumptions about power – instead of gathering or guarding his power, Jesus gives it away!
True power – Kingdom power – is a lot different than we have come to expect power to be. Weakness, not strength, is the holy ground on which Kingdom power breaks into our lives. God empowers us as his people, not to get our way or make loads of money, not to rule over others, not to win a culture war, but to be faithfully present as we move through life. Present to our internal lives and present to the pain around us. Present to what God is doing in our midst as he continues reconciling all of creation unto himself!
God wants to give us as much Kingdom power as we can bear, but part of our preparation is laying down the other forms of power and privilege we try to hold onto. We must empty our hands so that we can receive the Eucharist on Sunday morning!
What does it look like to give your power away, to lay down your privilege? Who has the power in your workplace and who is on the receiving end of it? How can you stand with the marginalized and the outcast this week? Release the fear that you have to advocate for yourself to get ahead and try to lift someone else up!
In Jesus, you have all that you need without clinging to worldly forms of strength. Give your power away and receive Kingdom Power to extend the presence of Christ in our world!
May you walk in the knowledge that God’s grace is sufficient for you and his strength is perfected in your weakness. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord!