News and Views

The word is… power

Posted by Guest Author on

...well said

Ancient church mothers and fathers often greeted one another with the phrase, “Give me a word.” This greeting led to the sharing of insights and wisdom. Today we continue this tradition with this monthly column.


By Mandy Sayers
Pastor, Covenant UMC, Gaithersburg

“But Jesus called them aside and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their superiors exercise authority over them. It shall not be this way among you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.’” — Matthew 20:25-28.

Power, my ethics professor was quick to point out, is a morally neutral thing. There’s nothing wrong, per se, with power. Power can do great good, and power can work great harm. After all, we affirm that we are to use the “freedom and power God gives” to resist evil, injustice and oppression “in whatever forms they present themselves.” (Baptismal Covenant) But what is the nature of the “power God gives?”

When we look at the power that Jesus wielded, and the power of the young church in Acts, we see that power shows itself in some unusual ways. Power is used by Jesus to cast out demons, to heal wounds, to free the oppressed, and to break down the dividing wall between those “in” and those “out.”

Jesus’ power could have looked very different; after all, Jesus is God’s Son. But Jesus used his power not with tanks and guns, but with liberation and love. Jesus lifted up humility as the standard for greatness, and love as the badge by which his followers would be known.

It is my prayer following Annual Conference that we would “use the freedom and power that God gives us” to work together for the sake of the transformation of the world. It is my prayer that I will be able to report back to my church about how well we listened to each other, how we loved our neighbors as ourselves and how we modeled for the larger church how to affirm unity, even without unanimity.

As John Wesley said, “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences. These remaining as they are, they may forward one another in love and in good works.” (John Wesley, “Catholic Spirit”)

By Daryl Williams
Pastor, St. Paul UMC, Oxon Hill

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere — in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” — Acts 1:8

It is interesting that the last thing Jesus did before ascending into heaven was to make a promise to his disciples. He didn’t give them a pep talk. He didn’t give a sappy goodbye speech. He made them a promise.

Just before he ascended from Earth and returned to heaven, Jesus told his disciples that they would receive power. It seems like an odd promise considering that Jesus was all-powerful. If he wanted the disciples to have power, why not just stay with them and let them tap into his power? Instead, he promises them that they will receive their own power.

True to his word, a short time later, when Pentecost had fully come and the disciples were of one accord, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit and gave the disciples power. Interestingly, when Jesus gave power to the disciples, they were given specific instructions — go tell everyone about me — and the power only comes at a specific time, when they are all of one accord.

You see, there is real danger to power that does not have a purpose or that comes at the wrong time. Power without purpose has the potential to do damage to others, and power out of timing has the potential to do damage to you.

As we come out of Annual Conference, remember the power of the Holy Spirit that was given to the first disciples on Pentecost was not just for them, but is available to each and every one of us today. Through the Holy Spirit, we have the power to be witnesses for Jesus Christ everywhere. We have the power to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Maryland, Washington, D.C., the panhandle of West Virginia, Bermuda, and everywhere in between. That is the purpose.

We must also remember that to receive this power we must be of one accord. No matter our differences of opinions, race, language or anything else, we are all disciples of Christ. So let us come together from this Annual Conference and we will receive power.