I wonder what you think when you hear the word “power”.
There is no doubt about it power is at work in the world today at many different levels. We are faced with powerful and sometimes unsettling displays of military power posed by certain countries. There are other sorts of power, too; the power of knowledge; the power of money has great influence, for it can buy things we want. We talk about the power of industry; the power which belongs to the big corporations and financial institutions. And with a General Election soon to be upon us we talk of power politics, mandates hoping to result in big majorities, whichever party is elected. There is the power of communication, which is ever more influential in the world today.
Whenever we think of power we tend to draw in our minds a picture of something forceful, dynamic and loud. But there is another kind of power which is immensely creative and unifying. One such example has been the coming together of people from all over the country, representing different cultures and ethnic groups to stand with the people of Manchester in acts of sympathy, compassion, unity and solidarity following the terrible events that took place at the Arena on the 22nd May. There has been no power game on display here, just the power of silence, the power of love, the power which has its roots in our common humanity, made as we are as children of God.
As we approach Pentecost we see another kind of power manifest.
It is described in terms of the powerful forces of nature, those of wind and fire, and it certainly marked an undeniable change in the lives of Christ’s followers. What I find interesting, however, is in the lead up to this very dramatic occurrence was the fact that the disciples were simply waiting and praying together. This was crucial for God to work.
Those who are gardeners will know that the work involves doing what you can to dig, turn over the earth, pull up the weeds and plant the seeds. The rest ultimately depends on God. He sends the rain and the sun and puts life within the plants so that they grow in silence in the earth.
The powers of nature require co-operation. Similarly. it is by co-operating with God’s ways that we receive the gift of His Spirit, who is often silently, imperceptibly and yet powerfully changing people’s lives.