From the Back Porch
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all thing were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Does it seem to you that Americans these days are into power? Consider that
- The self-help section of local bookstores is liable to carry titles such as:
- 7 Steps to Personal Power, 13 Secrets of Power Performance, 25 Steps to Power and Mastery Over People
We seemingly gravitate to power, craving the rewards that power can bring. Power can be seductive. Whether we wield it as a birthright or allow ourselves to be dominated by it as a curse, power is something that we learn to crave or fear. Yet it appears to be something we cannot escape and innocently begin at a young age.
- Striving to be the teacher’s pet, the favorite child, the one in charge. We desire the power to decide whom to include or exclude in our schools, neighborhoods and clubs; the power to protect homes, our country and ourselves.
- On the other hand, power is something that can control us. In the grips of the power of an abusive relationship, alcohol or drugs, a victim of power may often be unable and even unwilling to imagine life lived in any other way.
So when we pray about God’s “unchangeable power,” is this the kind of power we have in mind? Is it the kind of power we want, the power that brings with it status, prestige, wealth and security? Or is it the kind of power we fear—the power that rules by control, domination and compulsion?
Our faith teaches us that neither are what God means by power. God’s power is the
power by which “things which were cast down are being raised up.” God’s is the
power by which “things which had grown old are being made new.” God’s is the
power by which “all things are being brought to their perfection.”
The power of the Risen Christ is the power of the crucified Lord, who gave up status, prestige, comfort and security—the power of compassion and hospitality, the power of renewal and completion. The power whose realm is turned upside down, the last have become first, the meek inherit the earth. God’s power is wedded to love and justice, empowering all to be the creatures God made us to be.
The question we’re addressing as a nation is not whether there will be structures of power in our world, but what kind of power we will allow to shape our lives. The desire for power over others—and the effects of the power others have over us? Or the empowering love of the crucified and Risen Christ, who ruled as a servant to all, opening God’s arms wide in hospitality, even on the cross, in compassion and justice for God’s creation? NLJ+