No way…! Not you. Not me.
Recently I was part of a meeting about gun violence—the discussion aimed at what we can do about this vexing reality. After outlining the specifics of this dire situation, the group came to admit that we felt powerless…. (Well, most of the group except for this writer, the older fellow who was not in synch with the group’s zeitgeist.)
It struck me that feelings of powerlessness— reasonable like other emotions—can also drain from my spirit the get-up-and-go that might push or pull me into action. If I dwell only on the fact that I am a small boat in a way-too-large ocean, I will eventually capsize. If I think that “power” is a bad word for Christians to aspire to—and therefore avoid discovery of my personal power—that’s about as useful as rolling over and playing dead. (This does not usually work out well for opossums or older fellows.)
How about you? Powerless or powerful? Do you feel able to change the world, to stifle and stymie evil? Are there places where you’re a formidable force? If so, then you might agree: Older adults like us definitely hold considerable authority and influence in today’s society.
The alternative to feeling powerful? Acting like bobblehead toadies who mindlessly go along with today’s temporary flourishing of evil and immorality. During yet another fact-finding meeting, wringing our hands without putting those hands to work. Praying for deliverance without exercising our possible roles as deliverer. Or perhaps worse of all, “tsk-tsk”-ing about the dire state of national and world affairs and then hunkering down in a locked-and-shuttered home.
Remember the VietNam era, how we thought and acted powerfully? We could hit the streets again. If we have grandkids, they may need our thoughts and actions, helping them with their lives now and into their possible futures. We can write, speak out, contribute, volunteer. We can vote. We know people who know people. We’re smart and were wise, even in these turbulent times. Admit it: Once we acknowledge our potentials and strengths in the face of evil, we know what we can do.
At this time in the church year, we hear again about the temptations of Jesus. One way to look at them: All the Devil’s conversations and coaxings were about who actually had power. When confronted by Satan’s weak invitations—supposedly transferring authority—Jesus strips the Evil One of his imagined power with in-your-face put-downs: “I already have immense power. No way I’m going to give it to you! Read your Bible again!”
Commissioned by his baptism, Jesus knew what needed to be done—a self-sacrificing ministry filled with the Spirit—and he began by shoving aside the Devil’s fear-inspiring lies. (Satan is still First Liar!)
Back to you and me—older adults with considerable personal power available right now. When confronted by the specters of gun violence, hatred, fear or anger—all intertwined evils—we can stand up in meetings or conversations and even demonstrations. By claiming our power—a gift of God and part of our own baptismal commissioning—we can bring the world around us what it sorely needs: Repentance and in-your-face love.
We can say with forceful assurance, “Powerless? No way!”
(To receive these entries as they are posted, go to the upper right hand corner of the top banner and click on the three parallel lines or three dots. Scroll down to the form and enter your information.)