Power—like water, like fire, like crowds, like promises—walks a fine line between restoration and destruction. Given to someone who is not committed to the common good, power can be abused and weaponized, especially against those who navigate the world in the margins. We see this in dictatorships or oppressive theologies. If leveraged and shared, power can be a tool of kingdom-building resistance; it can call us out of the margins and into movements that uphold the dignity of all people. We see this in grassroots efforts for justice and in the old spirituals of the oppressed.

In today’s scripture, King David’s last words regard this difference in power. One who rules with justice, David says, is like the sun that bursts over the horizon at daybreak. That person brings hope and growth and works all things toward goodness after darkness. But unjust rulers are cast aside like thorns. Thorns are designed to protect the plant, not to invite the harvest. Thorns here can symbolize a self-preservation by those in power who end up being unapproachable and ultimately tossed out, left alone.

In our places of power, it is important to ask ourselves what about our leadership and privilege is perpetuating self-preservation and what is bringing about hope and growth through justice. Are the words we are saying (or leaving unsaid), the decisions we are making, and the people we are supporting attuned to the common good and considerate of the marginalized? Or are they leading us down a path of fear which will inevitably leave us disconnected and alone? Power is not intrinsically bad, but it is not something to be accepted and wielded without thought or conscience. Consider who your power is prioritizing today.

Omnipotent God, within the power and privilege we have normalized in our lives, call to our conscience the places where we are not considering the common good. Lead us out of fear and into perfect love. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read John 18:33-37

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Lectionary Week
November 15–21, 2021
Scripture Overview

Second Samuel records the final words of David. David takes comfort in the covenant that God has made with his family, which must be continued by kings who will honor God and rule justly. The psalmist sings of this same covenant with David’s family and the same necessity to follow God’s decrees in order to rule well. Revelation opens with a vision of Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant, the King to rule over all kings for all time. Many expected Jesus to set up a political kingdom. Yet in John, Jesus tells Pilate that his kingdom is not an earthly one. This week let us thank God that the kingdom is based not on the exercise of power but on Jesus’ example of serving others.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read 2 Samuel 23:1-7. What characteristics would you include in a description of a just leader? Where do you see those characteristics in world leaders today?
Read Psalm 132:1-18. What is your vision of Paradise? Who will be seated at the table with you?
Read Revelation 1:4b-8. How do you bear witness to the “Alpha and the Omega”?
Read John 18:33-37. What is your understanding of what it means to live in God’s kingdom?

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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