By Emily Hylden
A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 10:17-24
17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” 18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19 Indeed, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
21 At that very hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
23 Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see but did not see it and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
There’s a little buzz I get when I feel powerful. Do you ever experience that? There’s a little tingle when my child chooses to do what I’ve decreed — the first time I ask. There’s a moment of euphoria when I’ve asked for materials to be prepared for an event, and I show up and, poof! They’re just there, gathered and organized and ready to be used. It’s similar to the feeling of finishing a hard workout, too — when I am shaking from effort, but I also recognize the strength in my own body. A person could get used to these power trips, huh? I surely could!
But Jesus urges his disciples in the lesson today that our rejoicing and the root of our pleasure ought to come from gratitude at being known in heaven, recognized in love by our heavenly Father, rather than from the heady pleasure of being known to the snakes and scorpions and feared by them.
It reminds me that God’s power doesn’t ultimately come from fear, but from love. And that true power can only ever come from love, rather than from fear. As a fan of the British monarchy, I see how this truth has played out in the last hundreds of years. Some rulers maintained an iron grip and kept uprisings from occurring because of the terror they wielded over their people. Others, like recently-departed Elizabeth II, chose humble love, and the witness of her life (and death) speaks for itself. It’s not so different in our parenting of our children, or in dealing with our own parents, or ourselves: do we bludgeon ourselves when we feel a lack of power, or do we respond to moments of power or powerlessness with humility and love?
The Rev. Emily R. Hylden resides with her priest husband and three sons in Lafayette, Louisiana. Find her podcasting at Emily Rose Meditations.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Ndokwa – The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
Collegiate Church of St. Paul the Apostle, Savannah, Georgia