5/19: Transfer of Power from the Few to the Many

Posted on : May 16th, 2013 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

The other week I was reading a review about a new book titled, “The End of Power.”   The book is about the transfer of power:  from the few to the many.  The author said there is a great shift of power going on in the world.  Power has been held by the few – Popes and Kings and armies; and it is now held by the many.  It is a huge shift powered by new technologies and changing societal attitudes.  The book maps out in fascinating detail what these changes mean in all sorts of areas from government to personal life.

As soon as I read this, I said “That is so right – both governmentally and personally!”  For example, a couple years ago in the Middle East there were multiple liberation movements that were called “the Arab spring,” Each of the countries sought liberation from authoritarian dictators (absolute power vested in one person) to democracies.  Syria is the most recent and difficult.  The authoritarian dictator of Syria, Mr. Assad, isn’t about to give up power and it appears he is ready to fight to his death.  Sadly over 70,000 thousand Syrians have died in this struggle for the transfer of power.  Similar transfers of power are happening in Egypt, Pakistan, and Iraq.

In the religious struggle for racial, women’s and LGBT equality we have seen the same challenges.  Small groups of mostly conservative, Caucasian “Christian” men have held the positions of power and the struggle for equality has been brutal.  To see the struggle, one hardly has to look beyond The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Archbishop Oscar Romero, the current struggle for women’s ordination in the Southern Baptist, evangelical and Roman Catholic Churches and of course, to the fight for LGBT persons to be ordained in the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches.

There is, however, something remarkable occurring.  There is the transfer of power from “the few to the many.”  Social media has both connected and empowered people in ways that were unthinkable just a short time ago.  Dictatorships used to “operate” by controlling information. Not any more.  Religious institutions used to speak with absolute moral authority.  Not any more.

People know one another’s life and faith stories and are discovering “truths” that were previously repressed.

This change is not all new.  As soon as I heard of the writer’s thesis, “Transfer of Power: from the Few to the Many,” I immediately thought of the giving of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.  This “transfer of power:  from the few to the many,” is exactly the meaning of Pentecost.  During much of the history of our faith, the Power of the Spirit was in God.  In the Old Testament, God was “All Powerful.”  Omnipotent.  Creator.  At the conception of Jesus, we are told that this child was conceived “by the power of the Holy Spirit” and at his baptism “the Spirit of God descended upon him.”  After Jesus’ death, the power of the Spirit is given to everyone, not just a select few, but everyone – no exceptions!  The Pentecost story says there were people from every nation who spoke many, many different languages – and each heard and understood one another and they were all praising God.  At first some wise guy says, “They’re drunk.”  But Peter responds, “No, dude.  It’s only 9 am.  They are not drunk.  They are filled with the Holy Spirit – just as the Prophet Joel proclaimed.”

Just imagine the remarkable difference there could be in our world if we embraced the transfer of power from God to all of us – and cut out the blockers.  Our world would be a radically different place.  That is the vision of the prophet Joel for us, and now through cultural and technological changes, the reality is even more possible.

Come join in this transfer of power this Sunday!   And don’t forget to wear RED!



~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Acts 2:1-18

Luke describes the day of Pentecost, when worshipers were filled with the Holy Spirit.

1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  3And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

5Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

14But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “People of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17    ‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
18    Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy!

~ A Contemporary Reading ~

Who has seen the wind?

by Christina Rossetti

Who has seen the wind?

Neither I nor you:

But when the leaves hang trembling,

The wind is passing through.


Who has seen the wind?

Neither you nor I:

But when the trees bow down their heads,

The wind is passing by.

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