I am reading in 1 Samuel at the mo and of course have been reading of the institution of the monarchy with 1 Sam. 8 being ever so central. There were good kings and bad ones, but it is not too difficult to draw a line that by the third generation of kings (Solomon) the people have not left Egypt but headed back that way. The Queen of Sheba might have been very impressed, but we don’t have to go too far behind the public face to see the cost. The hierarchy is impressive – if one is impressed with hierarchy. Not surprising that the king who comes up to take on the northern lands comes up from Egypt and sets up some golden calves! Three generations.
Saul starts well, but it is ever so hard to occupy any seat of power and to continue well. Into that context Samuel says,
The Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever, but now your kingdom will not continue; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart; and the Lord has appointed him to be ruler over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you (1 Sam. 13:13,14).
God goes where we go. You are rejecting me, you want a king… I will anoint a king for you. (This of course has consequences, but in line with the series on the cross, God will take the consequences, Jesus dying as ‘the king of the Jews’!) Into these seats of power that God never instituted and that tend to corrupt, s/he looks for someone after her/his own heart. What does that look like?
It must look like a foot washing servant who is among us.
There are many seats of power in our world that will work to corrupt anyone who is appointed to sit in them (could it be that the seat ‘the Messiah’ was no different?). We can be realistic, for God is realistic. The seats are there. And always God looks for those who will occupy those seats but with God’s own heart.
I am not a Catholic, and so no surprise that I am not convinced that the papacy has anything to do with a ‘seat’ that Peter sat in! I am not suggesting Pope Francis is perfect, but when I read of his involvement with the first nations people in Canada recently I think maybe in that aspect we have God finding someone after his heart to sit in the seat that should never have been.
And I need to take to heart the seats offered to me… white, privileged male. The seat is there – how do I sit in it, or maybe do I get up from the seat (down from the seat?) and put a towel round my waist…
Pope Francis, the Catholic church and the First Nations peoples
I had an email at the end of last week letting me know that this had taken place in Canada. Might be a long time coming, but great to read.
I don’t know if you have been aware of this but First Nations peoples here in Canada, as a part of Truth and Reconciliation, and the journey of healing, have finally had a meeting with the Pope. We have been dealing here in Canada with a very violent and sad history of institutional abuse of children. Children were taken from their families and put into church run schools, often funded by the government. The government has apologised and paid out billions. The Protestant churches – Anglican and United – also apologised years ago. But the Catholic church held back. Would not apologise and has not paid what it agreed to pay. It was even difficult to schedule a time for delegates to meet with the Pope, though some of that was Covid.
This week delegates from Inuit, Metis and First Nations had private meetings with the Pope. They invited him and the church to walk with them on the journey of healing noting that the Church needs healing. They spoke about land and told their stories of trauma. They explained they have a shared Creator, this to a Church that had declared them non-human back in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Today the Pope apologised. He spoke of coming to Canada to visit their land and homes. He spoke a lot of land and intergenerational trauma. He hugged delegates. He spent way more time with them than was scheduled. Delegates danced, sang and prayed in their languages which had been banned in these residential schools. They gave the Pope gifts – a book of their stories, a cradleboard that symbolized all the children lost, an Inuit worked cross made of baleen, and other things. They have asked that the Pope renounce the Doctrine of Discovery that declared the lands as empty of humans and free for Catholic nations and the church to take over. It was put out in the 15th century and fueled how Europeans treated indigenous peoples.
A big moment for Canada and the world. It makes way for a larger shift.