"Their staff of bread he shattered, in his zeal he reduced them to straits." - Sirach 48:2
When we worship access to goods,
When we follow sound bites,
When we set aside our convictions because it feels good,
When we let our fears overshadow our faith,
When we know better but we do it anyway…
…Maybe we shouldn't be surprised when someone decides to take advantage of this. It is no historic anomaly that power will fill a void. Leave too many spaces untended and something powerful will take root.
As a broader witness, there are plenty of calls to address this societally. Leave no one behind, consider no one irrelevant to progress, and a void is filled, problem solved.
Or is it? Power will fill a void, structurally, anywhere. We may look to broader socio-structural solutions, but if we do not do our own inner work, the effort is incomplete and the changes will never take hold. Some of us have voids in our own lives that are filled with powerful forces that overcome some of our better nature. Ignoring this leaves us vulnerable.
Into the breach come leaders who can "shatter" everything. Their power might seduce us into thinking that they were sent by God. Our prayers need to include supplications for clarity on how to recognize power that comes from God, and power that does not. Look for God's help to fill every void, lest a demagogue, or worse, step in.
Today's text describes the works of the prophet Elijah, a prophet a good many folk ignored in his day because they were busy following the wrong sound bites, listening to the easy answers to the questions aroused by their fears. With God's help, we won't make the same mistake.
God, help me to follow you, not a parroting voice that would lead me – or my people – astray. Amen.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Minister of The Table, United Church of Christ of La Mesa, California.