It’s been quite some time since I’ve blogged here (more than a year and a half!). I regularly write at EmbracingFollowership.wordpress.com and ChurchCentral.com, but neither of those platforms is the right place for this particular post. And rather than let the thought go—unwritten, unreflected—for lack of venue, it seemed best to rekindle this space of admission and exploration. Writers write, so they say.
In my spiritual life, I find assistance in using a devotional book entitled A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants. I appreciate its liturgical nature, each week offering an invocation, a Psalm, Scripture passages from the lectionary, readings for reflection, an invitation to contemplation, the lyrics of a hymn, and a benediction.
This week’s entry, marking the third Sunday in Lent, contains this short benediction: “May God be your source of peace and power all day long. Amen.”
Those words of blessing caught my attention—“peace and power.”
Having worked all over the world, and having spent the last several years thinking about authority, influence, unity, humility, and cooperation (all in the context of writing my book Embracing Followership), the notion of peace being coupled with power is something truly remarkable, and unworldly.
Skimming across the surface of history would easily reveal that an accumulation of power rarely breeds a stable peace. Stretching all the way back to “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” brings us to the character of a galactic emperor who rests his rule on the might of a planet-destroying battle station and the dictum that “fear will keep them in line.”
Power with peace…not a combination that mankind has been terribly successful at achieving. All the more reason why these words of blessing are so significant.
“May God be your source of peace and power….”
I heard a message on Wednesday night at a mid-week Lenten service. The minister was discussing Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:47-53). In the midst of betrayal by Judas, in the midst of aggression suggested and perpetrated by the other disciples, Jesus exudes power, and establishes peace.
At a time when Jesus appears stuck, as much like a sheep among wolves as ever—when He Himself even affirms the prevailing of the power of darkness—He affirms His authority as Master and peacemaker. When chaos, confusion, and conflict are about to erupt, Jesus silences all of it; clearly the Master of His followers. When injury results from impetuous activity, Jesus lays His hand on the victim, restoring Him; clearly the Creator even of His antagonists.
There is no doubt about His power. And yet He submits. He sacrifices Himself to establish peace. He could have perpetuated the conflict, resisted the arrest, caused more harm than His disciple’s single sword thrust, but He sets things right and goes along to the coming sacrifice. Like a sheep being led to the slaughter.
Power with peace.
Not as an instrument for domination, or coercion, but as a means to rescue and relate.
What would it be like to be powerful, and yet unburdened by thoughts of maintaining a hold on that power? (I think of so many politicians.)
What would it be like to be powerful, but sober? Or better still, altruistic?
What would it be like to be peaceful, but not passive?
What would it be like to be a peacemaker, not a peace-faker or a peace-breaker?
And what would it be like to be powerful—capable of so much—and simultaneously peaceful about the use of that power, about the circumstances of life? More so, peace-focused in the application of that power?
Apparently, Jesus knows what it’s like. And our invitation is to live like Him, to have Him live through us.
And so, we find these daily words of blessing:
“May God be your source of peace and power all day long. Amen.”
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