In To Kill a Mockingbird, what does Miss Maudie mean by “sometimes the Bible in hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of-oh, your father”? -Miss Maudie (To Kill a Mockingbird)

In the church I grew up in it was not uncommon to refer to The Holy Bible as a sword or the more personal “your sword.” We would often hold each other accountable in youth group by asking each other where our sword was. I always half believed the metaphor to be a little lame. This all changed however with the invention of social media. The Bible is indeed a sword and has been used as a weapon by many people calling for it in the name of God/Jesus/The Holy Spirit to kill/hate/condemn/keep out those whom they disagree with in an array of topics. The American Church is built on a culture of power and tries to support that power by ‘standing on the authority of scripture’. It has kept the American Church in business for a long time, but now that this power seems to be leaving the American Church, perhaps it is time to turn that sword toward ourselves and lay ourselves down on it.

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus continuously redefines power. Through his birth, through his followers, through his miracles and ultimately through even his own death, Jesus redefines what it means to have power; even the power of the Kingdom of Heaven looks very different than the powers of the kingdoms of Earth. At his trial Jesus suggest to Pilate that his followers would indeed fight for his
release if they lived by the powers of the current world. However, Jesus seems to model that power in actually laying down ones life to the systems of power to show just how powerless they truly are.

As we enter Advent season and celebrate Jesus coming not as a powerful figure but rather as the most vulnerable of humans, an infant, may we begin to see power as something that asks us to simply be vulnerable. May we be people who refuse to use the scripture as a weapon and rather as a balm. May we be people who stand under scripture before we ever stand on top. Blessings and Peace.

– Rev. Jonathan Hyde