Week 1 September 8) Start with Samson
Samson is a buffoon - crazy strong, but ridiculously confident in his strength, and, in truth, not a very nice or wise person. So what is missing? Vulnerability. We are created with both authority and vulnerability (Genesis 1), and true flourishing takes place when both are joined. It is our flaws that make us human - they are gift, not curses. So there’s no need to cover them up. No need to posture. Humility means that we are not perfect, and have no need to posture or pretend to be perfect. And in the admission of our flaws, we open ourselves to growth and flourishing.
Week 2 (September 15) Back to the Garden
The serpent promises, ““You will not die, but you will become like God.” This is the two-fold promise of every idol—I will take away your insecurity/vulnerability, and I will give you authority. This is the pathway of the idol—it demands more, delivers less. So at the beginning it promises everything and costs you nothing; but by end it costs you everything and delivers none of the things it promised. We end up exploited and vulnerable, with less authority over our lives than we had.
So how do we get free? We name them. We clean house. We dedicate ourselves to the one true God. The starting point is to recognize where we are, to own our vulnerability, and allow God to clothe us anew.
Week 3 (September 22) Zaccheus
Zaccheus moves from exploitation to flourishing. How? By making himself vulnerable. This is our first taste of Jesus in action.
Week 4 (September 29) Esther
Every act of true authority requires vulnerability. To stay safe forever is to withdraw, to stay in bubble wrap. We either engage and grow, or withdraw and stagnate. There are issues of race and inclusion, issues of justice and poverty, issues like protecting our environment. And every single one of those issues is waiting for someone to step forward. I think about the guy who said: “Every problem in the world exists because someone has not stepped into their God-given purpose.” We are called to embrace the authority—the potential God gives us—to change the world. Let us make it better place!
Week 5 (October 6) Jesus
Jesus is both vulnerable and authoritative. What set him apart was that he “spoke as one who has authority.” He commands the winds and the waves, commands diseases and evil spirits. He has complete and total authority. Even in the washing of feet, Jesus retains authority. Yet, he makes himself vulnerable. Born in a manger. Submits to our baptism, and to our temptation. Rejects the devil’s short-cuts around hunger, fame, and power. He will not accept a false authority, he will not make an idol of his own security or his own fame or his own power. He remains vulnerable unto the end. All of this is rooted in identity. God gives him an identity in the baptism, and nothing is worth trading that identity.
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