Tuesday, December 5, 2017:
Authority rests upon his shoulders; Isaiah 9:6b
Much of my life I have been an authority conscious person, believing things simply because I’ve been told them by someone I have deemed to be trustworthy. As a young child, those I identified to have authority for me were my parents, teachers, and almost every adult with whom I came in contact. It was an easy world in which I lived with clear-cut boundaries. When my first grade teacher, Mrs. Martin, told me and three friends to go stand in a corner of the room because we continued to whisper to each other even after she had told us to stop, I went to the corner because implicitly I recognized her authority and did not even think about challenging it. Mrs. Martin carried the burden of authority on her shoulders for my first grade class - and every class she ever taught!
As a youth, those I identified to have authority for me were much the same; yet, my response to them was different, for it was a time of pushing back on those who carried the burden of authority on their shoulders for me. For example, if my parents gave me a curfew that was earlier than that of my friends, I would split the difference and arrive home late. Needless to say, my parents were not pleased and consequences followed.
Adolescence was a tumultuous time when parents saying “because I told you so” no longer seemed enough, for I undervalued what it meant for them to shoulder the burden of authority for me. I no longer trusted that they had my best interests at heart. This would not change, I became a parent and more fully understood what it means to have the burden of authority rest on a parent’s shoulders.
What I did not understand as a teen is that no human being has to shoulder the burden of authority alone. This is God’s gift wrapped up for us at Christmas: the promised Messiah upon whose shoulders the prophet Isaiah foretold said the burden of authority would rest.
What does it mean for you this season, as you prepare for Christmas, to know that Jesus Christ carries the burden of authority on his shoulders for you? for me? for the world? that any authority for what we say and do comes through him?
Prayer: Pray The Lord’s Prayer deliberately considering its connection with the text from Isaiah 9:6b.
Creative Call-to-Action: Enter into a conversation with someone about who or what has authority in your life. Is God the ultimate authority? If so, how might that change what you say and do?
—Rev. Anne Pruett Barnett