Like so many others, I am saddened by the way our leaders have been wielding power-- to harm their opponents rather than to make the world better. So many of those leaders, on both sides, are professing Christians, but their sense of power pays little attention to what Jesus taught.
Minnesota, of course, is far from Washington and those battles. A few weeks ago, I wandered over to watch the first football game at the high school in my neighborhood. It was a magical evening-- beautiful light, masses of happy kids wandering around, the chatter of parents, and the start of a new school year.
During the game, there were several announcements over the PA, saying that after the game there would be a pizza party for those associated with the football program. Sure enough, the game ended and just outside the fence enclosing the field a few football dads stood proudly behind tables laden with pizza, waiting for the players to come out of the locker room. As one might expect, everyone coming out of the game considered themselves "associated with football" and walked over to get some-- cheerleaders, band members, gaggles of sophomore girls. The dads tried to fend everyone off for a while. One dad seemed genuinely agitated, and was yelling "Pizza for football people only!"
Of course, it didn't work. People looked at the yelling dad perplexedly, then took some pizza. It was a great party, standing around by the field, the lights still on, the air warm, and a full moon overhead. Eventually, the son of Agitated Dad came up and said, as quietly and politely as can be imagined, "Dad, don't be a jackass." Then the football player handed some pizza to his friends in the band.
That's the nature of power, of whatever kind, good or bad-- the power that comes through money, or strength, or violence, or even through principle and commitment-- it dissolves, stone by stone, slice by slice. Jesus taught this, again and again, but we still find it hard to hear. Like many of his lessons, acceptance of the ephemeral nature of power requires a humility that few of us achieve.
We all have power of some kind. We all will lose it, too. Beauty will fade, money will fail to buy health, the eloquent will fall silent.
And what then?
We will be remembered by how we used that power, by what we did with those abilities, not by how much power we had. It is not a parable of talents-- it is a reality, proven again and again as our tiny place in this Creation humbles us all, one by one.
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