How do we understand power? How do we use power effectively and creatively? The question of authority speaks through all of the readings this week, including both the Gospel and its related readings and the continuous Old Testament passage.
The journey of David continues in the continuous Old Testament narrative. After last weeks’ account of his anointing, this week we read of how the young shepherd calls on God’s authority to defeat the giant, Goliath, and then is given authority over Saul’s army. An interesting feature of this passage is the difference between Saul, whose authority is threatened by this new leader, and Saul’s son Jonathan, who would be expected to be threatened by a possible usurper of his throne, but who loves David selflessly and devotedly.
In the Gospel, the question of authority is raised through the story of Jesus calming the storm. Here Jesus is shown to have access to the authority and power of God not just over people, sickness and evil spirits, but over the natural world as well.
Both of these passages reflect on authority as power or strength or “dominance over”.
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, however, gives a different perspective on authority. It is in the weakness and suffering of Paul and the other apostles, and their commitment to the Gospel in spite of their hardships, that Paul’s authority is revealed, and it is on the basis of this that Paul calls on the Christians to accept his ministry and his message.
In the Psalm, God’s authority is proclaimed over the nations (Psalm 9) as the psalmist pleads with God to bring justice and show the nations that they are merely human.
This week then, we are invited to continue the journey from committing our allegiance to God’s Reign alone (two weeks ago) to recognising the impact that small contributions can have (last week), to living as those who are under God’s authority while also, together as God’s people, exercising authority in God’s name as we bring life and justice to others. May we learn to embrace the weak, serving in the generous power of Christ through our worship this week.