Written by Daniel Hazard
"The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire. The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness."
Anthony B. Robinson
In her wonderful book Nurturing Spiritual Depth in Christian Worship, UCC pastor and teacher Janice Jean Springer writes, "Worship can be - I would say it should be - about power. It is about God's power. It is about how we can access that power for our lives, for service to others, for our justice-making."
If you don't believe Janice check out today's reading, Psalm 29. God is powerful. God's word is powerful. It "flashes forth flames of fire."
And in the New Testament, Paul says that the gospel isn't just words; it is power, a power that changes everything.
We in the UCC appear to be terribly ambivalent about power. I've heard some say, "Power is bad." We're not sure pastors should have power or exercise it. We create denominational leadership positions shorn of power. We aren't quite sure if we want to experience God's power in worship - especially if it challenges our power.
There are good reasons for this. Power has often been misused or abused. But rightful concern about power's abuse may blind us to another serious problem - what happens when legitimate power is absent, not exercised for the good of the church or is undermined. Then there's a power vacuum, and churches - like nature - abhor a vacuum. Power-grabbers move in.
My friend and fellow devotional writer Kenneth Samuel told me, "If my people don't leave church with more power than they had when they came into church, they aren't coming back to church." Worship and faith are about power, power that changes lives and changes the world.
More power to you.
Come Holy Spirit, break us open and make us new. Amen.
Order Spring Cleaning: 2013 Lent Devotionals - new from the Stillspeaking Writers' Group and other favorite UCC writers. Lent starts Feb. 13.