Dr Di Rayson captures our collective weariness and longing as we begin our Advent journey in 2020.
On the fourteenth day of Advent, Remy Chadwick laments the injustice witnessed in human leadership and looks to the coming Messiah.
For those weary of bad human leadership
I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
through all generations.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant,
‘I will establish your line forever
and make your throne firm through all generations.’”
Once you spoke in a vision,
to your faithful people you said:
“I have bestowed strength on a warrior;
I have raised up a young man from among the people.
I have found David my servant;
with my sacred oil I have anointed him.
My hand will sustain him;
surely my arm will strengthen him.
The enemy will not get the better of him;
the wicked will not oppress him.
I will crush his foes before him
and strike down his adversaries.
My faithful love will be with him,
and through my name his horn[a] will be exalted.
I will set his hand over the sea,
his right hand over the rivers.
He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, the Rock my Savior.’
Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26
Advent is the celebration of a coming human king. I’m no monarchist so putting it in those words feels almost contradictory. Yet as I read this passage I am filled with a sorrowful longing for this king to come as soon as possible.
I got married on the 30th of December last year, and since have experienced what I call the 2020 flip. Although so much glory awaits the children of the New Creation, I started 2020 with no rush to get there. ‘Life is for doing things!’ was my thought. There is so much to do in one life – building community, sparking imagination, overturning wrongdoing, nurturing potential in people and in creation. Bringing the whole of life under the rule of God. But this side of 2020 has stripped my idealism of its clothes and even its skin in some places. I have so much less power than I thought. Not just in the face of a relentless virus, but chiefly, in the face of human fear and of those who are in a position to exploit it.
I am so weary of bad human leadership that it feels like I wear the millstone of criticism around my own neck. Some readers will have far more painful and constant stories of powerlessness hanging around theirs and they carry those millstones with greater dignity. But all of us know this kind of pain: the pain of seeing good people, good leaders, sacrificing for their communities, without ever receiving the recognition or influence their actions deserve; while others at the top of the chain rampage or prevaricate, leaving trails of sorrow, and are applauded for it.
Our collective desire for a good leader is reflected in the popularity that current State Premiers all enjoy. The popularity of these leaders is not always synonymous with good leadership. As our world has faced a new challenge in managing the risks posed by COVID-19, new expressions of entrenched cultural wrongs have appeared. When we look both in our own country and to other countries, we see that no single leader can turn a centuries-old tide of injustice and dysfunction.
But the Anointed Son of the LORD can. This word heralds the foundations of his Kingdom, built on eternal strength, love and faithfulness. Unlike those powerful human leaders who so often succeed based on the false promise of cunning, ruthlessness or optics, the King’s rule lies in a covenant – an irreversible decree from an unswerving God devoted to correct wrongdoing and to bless his subjects. The covenant is a guarantee that we can expect love and justice from him at all times. We serve a King who knows service, who knows every blade of grass in this land, who knows the depths of the Father’s love and the breadth of human follies and gave his life for all of it. This side of 2020, I know in my bones that we need this leader – we are not whole without him. Come Lord Jesus.
Remy Chadwick lives in Melbourne with his wife Nichola. They create art and teach for St Matt’s Prahran, 3D Arts Company, Scripture Union and others. They hunger to see the imagination of God fill our world.