2. A Broken Clock

A Broken Clock

Part 2 of the Spotlight series "Power is Passing" 
Does your family have a particular way or trick when it comes to making decisions? How do you "choose who gets to choose"?

Once you've broken the ice, see what this Spotlight is focused on by clicking the "focus" below.
Let’s talk about the unforeseen consequences of power.
Listen to this audio clip when you’re ready to begin today’s Spotlight.
(And welcome, by the way! It’s great that you’re here!)
Click play on the video below to see the hit in this 30 second clip.
Hopefully that makes enough sense to get you started.

Pray this prayer to get into it:
You say that the meek will inherit the earth,
so we ask that when it seems like the power-hungry
are taking it all anyway
you would increase our faith in you
and decrease our trust in power.

Welcome Perspective: Sometimes it looks great, but it's always short sighted to trust in power.
To worship is to rest in the arms of God - and since dealing with the consequences of the pursuit, abuse, and just general ups and downs of power can be exhausting, this rest is much needed.

Begin by reflecting on the song, “The Pride of Man.” Originally written in 1964 by Hamilton Camp. The song is full of apocalyptic language about the fall of power and man’s foolishness in trusting in power. Though it was written shortly after Camp joined a sort of Eastern religious movement known as Subad, it is full of biblical allusions.

Before you listen, here are some of the lines that reference biblical themes or passages, along with their corresponding scripture references:
  • “Babylon is laid to waste”: This refers to the fall of Babylon, a theme prevalent in several parts of the Bible, particularly in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 18:2) and the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 13:19-22).
  • “Egypt’s buried in her shame”: This could allude to several instances in the Bible where Egypt faces downfall or defeat, such as in the Book of Exodus during the plagues (Exodus 7-11).
  • “The sword of God is raised / On Babylon that mighty city”: Again, this is an allusion to the judgment and fall of Babylon, as mentioned in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 18).
  • “Rich in treasure, wide in fame”: This phrase could be an allusion to the wealth and fame of various biblical cities known for their opulence, like Babylon (Daniel 4:30) or Tyre (Ezekiel 27).
  • “Bow unto a God of gold”: This line likely refers to the worship of false idols made of gold, a recurring theme in the Old Testament, such as the golden calf incident in Exodus 32.
  • “Thy holy mountain be restored”: This phrase likely refers to Zion or Jerusalem, often symbolized as God’s holy mountain, as mentioned in Psalms (Psalm 48:1-2) and Isaiah (Isaiah 11:9).
  • “Have mercy on thy people Lord”: This is a common plea found throughout the Psalms, where the Psalmist often asks for God’s mercy on His people (e.g., Psalm 51:1, Psalm 123:3).

You can now listen to the song, choosing one of 4 versions: 
  • While Camp wrote the song in 1964, it became truly popular in 1966 when it was covered by Gordon Lightfoot.
  • A classic rock version of the song was recorded in 1968 by the Quicksilver Messenger Service.
  • It was covered later by bluegrass musician Tony Rice on his classic album “Church Street Blues.”
  • Finally, it was covered by bluegrass supergroup The Punch Brothers last year in their start-to-finish cover of Tony Rice’s album “Church Street Blues.”

Use Psalm 146 as a palate-cleanser from that not-so-uplifting song. The writer of the psalm proudly claims to find hope in and praise only God - who is clearly not subject to the ways power seems to work.

Psalm 146:1–10 (NLT): 
1 Praise the Lord!
Let all that I am praise the Lord. 
2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live. 
I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.

Pause for silent prayer about the weakness and hope embedded in the idea of a dying breath.

3 Don’t put your confidence in powerful people;
there is no help for you there. 
4 When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, 
and all their plans die with them.

Pause to ask for help and forgiveness when it comes to the was you've put confidence in power.

5 But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper,
whose hope is in the Lord their God. 
6 He made heaven and earth, 
the sea, and everything in them. 
He keeps every promise forever. 
7 He gives justice to the oppressed 
and food to the hungry.

Pause to reflect on the myriad ways God is providing even now.

The Lord frees the prisoners.
8 The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. 
The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down. 
The Lord loves the godly. 
9 The Lord protects the foreigners among us. 
He cares for the orphans and widows, 
but he frustrates the plans of the wicked.

Pause to thank God, directly, for being with those who are in weakened states.

10 The Lord will reign forever.
He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations.
Praise the Lord!

Respond to this with the song "The Lord is King." 
Worship Perspective: Power feels safe, especially when its on our side. Faith is safer. 

Interacting with the Broken Clock

It's not simple. (Rarely are things we dig into in Spotlights simple.) Humans on earth must deal with the reality that power can seem, and even be, significant as we interact with it. Nevertheless, the person of faith seeks to believe in the God of love who comes in weakness, not in the devilish lie of power.

Begin by reading Genesis 12:10-20.

Genesis 12
10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”
14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. 15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.
17 But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!”   20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.

Discuss this passage using the following questions. 
  • There is a lot, lot, lot of discussion about whether or not Abram sinned in this story. Raise your hand if you think he did. (Even if you're mixed, pick one.) 
    • For those who think Abram did something wrong, why? 
    • For those who think Abram is in the clear, why?
  • Do you know what happened in the first 9 verses of this chapter? Look it up if you don't. Does this affect how you feel in this story? 
  • If you are interpreting this story as if Abram sinned, what would be true about the issue of his relationship with power (how he feels about it, what he believes about it)? 
  • What would you do, if put in the same situation? 

Now read Joshua 2:1-7

Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.
2 The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” 3 So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”
4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. 5 At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” 6 (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) 7 So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.

Discuss this passage using the following questions. 
  • Raise your hand if you think Rahab sinned by lying to the king. 
    • For those who think Rahab did something wrong, why? 
    • For those who think Rahab is in the clear, why?
  • Contrast this story with Abram's. Does Rahab's relationship with power seem or different from his? 
  • These two stories give an interesting glimpse at the 
Learn Perspective: Faith in promise and faith in power are different. Seek to see the difference.
Let's start talking about power and its affect on the world through the eyes of artist Abby Skorenkyi.
Serve Perspective: When power reveals itself, there's no hope in it.
Pray for One Another

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your Name.Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace—
hallowed be your name.
Christ our Lord, you descended to earth, to a lowly manger
to bring all nations under your rule
and draw us into your holy and perfect presence.
We bow at your manger in awe of your might.
Immanuel, God with us—hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,your will be done on earth as in heaven.
Prince of Peace, make your kingdom complete.
May we prepare a way for your kingdom
wherever there is violence and hatred
wherever there is oppression and injustice
wherever there is quarreling and alienation.
May we prepare a way for your kingdom of peace,
where the wolf will live with the lamb and the leopard will lie down with the kid.
In us, through us, and around us, your kingdom come.
Give us today our daily bread.
Bread of life, feed us with your truth.
In a season of greed and selfish desires
may we see that we are sustained only by your providence.
May our eagerness to open our gifts
Pale in comparison to our joy to receive the gift of the Savior.
May our discontent disappear as we approach the day of your coming.
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lord God, our lives are filled with sin.
We need a Savior to come to us.
For our worry and our scurrying this Advent season, forgive us.
For the way we make this a season of shopping rather than waiting, forgive us.
For the security and comfort we seek from sources other than you, forgive us.
For our indifference to the wonder of your coming, forgive us.
Come to us, Savior of the world.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Protect us from the constant dangers and enticing temptations we face each day.
Deliver us from the oppressive evils of apathy, addiction, and abuse.
Strengthen your church when it faces persecution
for announcing the coming of your kingdom.
Comfort all who are suffering in their hearts or in their bodies;
give them health and peace to sing of your power.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever.
Word who became flesh and lived among us,
we have seen your glory, full of grace and truth.
You come to us now, and you will come to us again in glory,
when we will join all heaven and earth in giving you blessing
and honor and glory and might forever!
Until that glorious day, we praise you for becoming one of us,
And we long for your glory to be fully revealed.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Farewell Perspective: Let's leave behind the trickery of power for the consistency of faith.
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