Today’s readings (click to open in a new tab/window):
Psalms 57; 145, Genesis (14:1-7) 8-24, Hebrews 8:1-13, John 4:43-54
Do you stay to watch the credits at the end of a movie? It can take hundreds of people to see a film through from beginning to end. Writers, producers, directors, stars – these people have the name recognition to get the project off the ground, but without gaffers and grips the production would falter or fold. Every name buried in that scrolling list provides a vital function.
As we follow the story of Abram and his wife Sarai, it mostly unfolds like the story of two stars and a few lesser roles. In today’s passage, however, we get a feel for the large number of people who depended on them, and on whom they depended. Every time Abram and Sarai move, in their wake is an entourage of hundreds, including family, herders (with their wives and children), slaves, trained solders, and sundry others – enough to fill two separate communities.
When we think of Abraham as “our father in faith,” it’s easy to overlook the hundreds of unnamed people who contributed to that title. When he knocked at Egypt’s door seeking entrance, he was more than half a married couple: he represented hundreds seeking sanctuary. When he was forced out, hundreds had to follow. When he was plundered by neighboring kings, he had to recover not just goods, but people as well. He and his people were interdependent: as their patriarch he led them wisely, and they made sure the show went on. A leader is the hub, but without spokes a hub is meaningless.
When we believe we see God acting through a leader, let’s look at the bigger picture – the spokes that define the hub, or the crew that supports the star. God’s touch is not limited to the elect few, so we need to actively support such leaders and understand the scope of their responsibilities. We aren’t an audience passively waiting for leadership to happen to us; we are a vital part of the production. By the time the credits roll, we want to be able to point to our name with pride in the job we’ve done.
Comfort: Even if your role in God’s plan feels small, it is vital.
Challenge: Don’t let your faith, church, or community happen “to” you – take part.
Prayer: Thank you, O Lord, for the responsibilities which are mine, and thank you that not all of them are.
Discussion: We tend to judge religious leaders (or managers, or civic leaders) on how well they meet our specific needs, but their responsibilities are often greater than we know. Our leaders can’t do everything that needs done; when appropriate how can we support them?
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