Hello again – today I wish to share some reflections on the teaching and discussions we had last week during our orientation in Akron, PA. During one session, by chance, I happened to stand beside our facilitator during the opening group exercise, which was designed to stimulate our thoughts on service and power/privilege. He picked me to role-play the King of Israel in the account found in II Kings chapter 6. Quite sobering, for as king I have all the power (and desire) to slaughter the captured army of Arameans. But I also have the voice of the prophet Elisha to consider (or contend). While I won’t detail the whole story here, in the end I do follow the advice of Elisha and in fact give the captured soldiers food and water, and then let them go, back to Naaman, captain of the Aramean army! Why would Elisha recommend something so absurd? Our facilitator pointed to the faithful and humble service of Naaman’s Hebrew servant girl. Her initiative to see her master healed through the prophet Elisha helped build a bridge between Israel and Aram – one that may have influenced the peaceful resolution to the situation in II Kings 6. While that peace did not last, the account does point out some realities about power that remain very relevant today – the grappling for power that oppresses others….the power of God’s wisdom spoken through his people…..and the power of service and faith in God’s restorative justice.
Much of our discussion focused on the Biblical call for God’s children to serve. What does it mean to serve? If we always serve without allowing ourselves to be served how does that impact our community? Can we potentially misuse power over others if we always assume (wrongly) that we are the competent, the one without needs? In my scribble book I wrote a few phrases about service that are meaningful to me: in step with the spirit…attentive and engaging with my surroundings…transparent as to my own needs and need for community…and service rooted in establishing mutual friendships that strive to be interdependent – for this final point see John 15:15 as an example of Jesus’ wisdom in building God’s kingdom / community……. can I say kingdommunity?