In our discussion of Daniel, we ended up talking about the fact that the book of Daniel is like the book of Revelation in the New Testament – hard to understand, hard to interpret, people avoid it for that reason (some, anyway). And that got us on to the topic of what do we expect about the “end times” and did we agree with the phrase in our curriculum (yes, we have some) “God’s final reign is our vision”?1 Because there was a sentiment that the term “reign” is associated with … things we don’t envision as part of the end, like “autocracy” or tyranny. And there are those of us [and I have to count myself among them] who, whenever someone uses words like “power” or “authority” immediately think “ ,abuse of” and that is something that doesn’t fit in the same mental space as “heaven” or “paradise.” So we have to remind ourselves that when this particular “reign” prevails, on earth as it does in heaven, it’s the reign of God we’re talking about, and the “authority” won’t be “authoritarian.” [If having to go through this particular mental exercise from time to time is a problem, I am OK with it. I would rather have this problem than the problem that comes from never thinking about it because I’m that unaware of or OK with “authority, abuse of.”]
In church the Moderator of the Personnel Committee passed out “Appropriate Sexual Conduct” forms, because what we’ve figured out is that basically everyone in the church comes into contact with other people during the course of the year, and the policy basically applies to each of us, so it’s a good idea to have everyone turn in a signature. And our pastor said “all that’s missing is a little theology” – we do this for a reason, and it’s not just to cover our assets, we have reasons that have to do with this being the kind of community it is, with the kind of accountability we have. Yes, it makes the Moderator of the Personnel Committee happy when all the forms are turned in, and we are happy to make him happy. But perhaps more importantly, we try to care about everyone else, too; so we are on record as letting people know that we want this place to be a safe place, and we have agreed to try to make that true; we think that’s something Jesus would want us to do.
From what we can tell, Jesus didn’t go along with “authority, abuse of” either.
1 Donald W. McKim. The Present Word: Winter 2017-2018, Faith in Action Adult Student’s Book Louisville,KY: Presbyterian Church (USA), 2017. 55.