Bowling for Tyrants
He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. – Luke 1:51-53 (NRSV)
Have you gone bowling lately? There’s something mesmerizing about the way bowling pins fall one by one, only to be retrieved and replaced by the gears and clamps of invisible machinery.
Sometimes, you can scatter all the pins with a satisfying clatter and cry of “Strike!” Sometimes, the ball picks off one or two pins, or even rolls ineffectually down the gutter. Either way, you can roll again and again, until your time is done. As your game ends and you walk away, the pins are set up again, ready to be knocked down again by the next bowler.
Like bowling pins, the proud and the powerful might fall in ones or twos, or even in whole groups. Then, as if by invisible machinations, tyrants rise up again and again.
Today’s scripture reminds us that in each generation we will face tyranny and inequality, famine and oppression. In each generation, we will have the opportunity and the responsibility to do our part to knock them down. Sometimes we will succeed and sometimes we will roll a gutter ball, but we will have the opportunity to try and to try again. In each generation, we will walk away, knowing that there will be more for the next generation to do. And the next generation will do the same.
Our God, you have a strong arm. Give us strong arms as well, that we may do our part to undo tyranny in our generation. Amen.
Jennifer Garrison Brownell is pastor of Vancouver United Church of Christ. Her writing appears in the collection, The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms For the Struggle, available from The Pilgrim Press.