Peace means shared leadership, shared gifting
Judges 4: 1-10
1 The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, after Ehud died. 2 So the Lord sold them into the hand of King Jabin of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-ha-goiim. 3 Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help; for he had nine hundred chariots of iron, and had oppressed the Israelites cruelly for twenty years.
4 At that time Deborah, a prophetess, wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel. 5 She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the Israelites came up to her for judgement. 6 She sent and summoned Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, ‘The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you, “Go, take position at Mount Tabor, bringing ten thousand from the tribe of Naphtali and the tribe of Zebulun. 7 I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the Wadi Kishon with his chariots and his troops; and I will give him into your hand.”’ 8 Barak said to her, ‘If you will go with me, I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.’ 9 And she said, ‘I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.’ Then Deborah got up and went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and ten thousand warriors went up behind him; and Deborah went up with him.
This week as we think about peace our theme invites us to consider the role that we all play as influencers in our society. The truth is while we often think the big decisions about the future of the world are played out by world leaders and people who are distant from our lifestyles - the fact is we all make a contribution to the way others around us think and act.
Our lives have a ripple effect. It’s the one small action that seems insignificant that can begin to change a family, that in turn changes a street, that in turn changes a town, that brings about a national movement that changes a culture.
Today’s reading invites us to consider the place of women in leadership. Deborah was a respected leader in ancient Israel and Barak was a general who was enlightened enough to recognise that he had the authority to lead an army but it was Deborah who had the power to inspire an army. In the Scripture today we can see that there is no discrimination in the eyes of God between men and women. Recently there has been much talk about men abusing their power and acting inappropriately towards women. On this occasion Barak understood the importance of shared leadership and shared gifting that brings about a unity of purpose and peace in a nation.
Thank you Father God that you have created men and women to live together in harmony and mutual trust and respect. Forgive us when we have allowed our gender differences to become barriers that prevent us from bringing all our gifts and talents and insights to the table in order that we might work together and experience the joy of shared victories.
Speak into the hearts of those who bring their prejudices to bear against women when they read scripture. Give them a fresh insight into the peace that comes from giving permission to another to lead.
We pray for all who feel abused and used and manipulated
We pray for those who recklessly use their power for self gratification.
Embrace those who are not ready to forgive another and move on
Hold them close to your heart
In order that they might find the courage to forgive
Draw near to the hurting and fearful
Through your Spirit
Give them hope to live again.