Today's reflection on the Daily Texts:
They shall be my people and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness. – Zechariah 8:8
He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead. – Colossians 1:18
Two-year reading texts: Psalm 107:17-22; 1 Samuel 7:2-8:22; Luke 24:36-53
Reading today's scriptures, I can't help but think of our presidential election process. It stresses me out and frustrates me. We have so much emotion and anger tied up with our politics that the stakes seem higher and ever, and so do the levels of bitterness and division and hatred.
1 Samuel 8 tells about a time when God's people wanted to "make the nation great" by following a strong leader. God and Samuel and the passage of time all illustrate how badly this turns out.
In contrast, Luke 24 shows the beginning of the reign of the greatest leader ever. His followers are not subjects in the grip of a strongman, but free people spreading the love and joy of his good news. Jesus pronounces that repentance and forgiveness are to be proclaimed to everybody everywhere - all who are disconnected from God are to be reconciled with God and with each other, one body with Jesus Christ as the head. And his followers are called to be witnesses of the whole story. Here he is fulfilling the entire arc of the Bible so far, finally beginning the kingship of the true divine leader humanity has been needing and looking for all along. His final act in Luke is a blessing, but the exact words are not recorded. Just before that, he tells them that they will be "clothed with power from on high" as promised by God, through the Holy Spirit. So in Christ, power consists not in political or military strength, but in the ability to witness to the One in whom all sin and brokenness is overcome and all humanity is made one.
At a small scale, I take from today's scriptures assurance that my own leadership doesn't have to be strong or perfect or impressive by human standards. I'm just called to be a witness, and my power to do that comes not from me but from God. At a larger scale, I even take some assurance today that the proper perspective on our national and global politics is God's perspective. Every human leader, whether judged good or bad, righteous or evil, is just a small piece of history, brought to power through human choice or through the workings of imperfect human systems. Jesus Christ remains the true leader, the true head of the whole body, through whom God's righteousness is faithfully and powerfully known. May he be the leader we follow above all others!