Sunday 17th October 2021
21st Sunday after Pentecost

Job 38:1-7, (34-41); Psalm 104:1-9, 25, 37b; Hebrews 5:1-10; Mark 10:35-45

(Alternatives: Isaiah 53:4-12; Psalm 91:9-16)

This week’s readings return us to the theme of power, how it is used and the danger of becoming so absorbed by our own structures of power, that we forget how puny they are, when compared to God’s dominion and authority. The world of business can often be one in which unhealthy power structures develop and those with authority can “lord it over” their subordinates. We can note again that Jesus does not dismiss the need for authority and leadership structures, but does have something to say about how they should operate. So we might be reminded that the values and message of our faith are deeply concerned with how business is managed and organised.

These Scriptures strike at the very heart of some of the key issues facing the world of business today. When authority is unbridled and unchecked, or individuals and structures become unaccountable, our collective endeavours can be harnessed to pursue unwholesome and damaging ends. We are called to recognise that every human authority is accountable to God, and to conduct our business affairs in the light of this reality.

These readings provide opportunity to pray for those who have authority and management responsibility in our world, and for those within the congregation who are in positions of seniority to be reminded that they are called to exercise this under the sovereignty of God. Jesus also speaks about how we treat one another - the world of work puts us all into positions of power in some context or other; when we are a customer, consumer, service user or service provider, we have a measure of power over those with whom we interact. Even if we feel powerless in a workplace context, if we pause to reflect, there are issues over which we have power. We have power over whether we co-operate or undermine, power over whether or not we take out our frustrations on others, power over whether we choose to “bear one another’s burdens or just look after our own interests. Jesus reminds us, however our day to day relationships are structured, that we should follow His example in how we use authority.