While we are “marching upward to Zion,” what kind of leader can we trust to show us the way?
The first reason the Israelite tribes gave for choosing David was, “We are your very own flesh and bone.” They knew David was one of them and they were one with him.
When Doris Kearns Goodwin studied the leadership of Franklin D. Roosevelt, she found a direct link between his personal struggle with polio and his ability to lead the American people through the great depression and World War II. She called FDR “the living emblem of a man who had truly transformed his own pain and necessity into glorious gain.”*
Living among patients at Warm Springs, GA, FDR learned humility that was “of a different order than merely accepting one’s limitations. By sharing those limitations with his fellow polios, by listening and learning from them, he . . . developed a new empathy, allowing him to connect emotionally with all manner of people to whom fate had also dealt an unkind blow.”*
On our journey to Mount Zion, we don’t follow a leader “who can’t sympathize with our weakness but . . . one who was tempted in every way that we are, except without sin.” We follow Jesus Christ who “learned obedience from what he suffered . . . [and] became the source of salvation” (Heb. 4:15, 5:8-9, CEB). In the Incarnation, God became our “very own flesh and bone.” We follow Jesus because we know that he is one of us, and one with us.
*Leadership in Turbulent Times (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2018), pp. 170, 173.
All praise to thee, for thou, O King divine, didst yield the glory that of right was thine . . . Alleluia! (UMH, no. 166).
The readings from the Hebrew scriptures this week celebrate Jerusalem, the capital of the great King David, who united the ancient Israelites and built up the city. The psalmist praises Jerusalem using the image of Zion—a name used for earthly Jerusalem but also a gesture toward a future day when God’s people will abide in a heavenly city. In Second Corinthians, Paul explains that even though he is an apostle, he struggles like everyone else. Speculation surrounds the “thorn” that plagued Paul; but his point is that when he is weakest, God is strongest. In Mark, we see God’s power working through Jesus, who sent out others to expand God’s healing work.
Read 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10. What qualities of leadership are important in this reading? How do those qualities square with your experience with those in power?
Read Psalm 48. Bring to mind a place where you experience God’s presence. What is it about that place that makes you especially aware of God’s presence?
Read 2 Corinthians 12:2-10. When have you experienced weakness becoming a source of strength and power?
Read Mark 6:1-13. When have you discounted someone because of your assumptions about them?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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