52 Weeks at the Table – Week 13
Israel’s judge, Samson, becamed famed for his physical strength. He had been set apart from birth by the instruction of an angel to be a Nazirite, and to touch no wine or unclean thing. When the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, he could tear a lion into pieces or best thirty Philistines with his bare hands; he could uproot a city gate and carry it away; he could snap new ropes binding him or strike down a thousand with the jawbone of a dead donkey. Yet his weakness was his passion for a woman outside of God’s will for him. Shorn of his Nazarite locks, he was also abandoned by the Lord. When Philistines had bound him with bronze, blinded him and paraded him before all the people in Dagon’s temple, he prayed for strength one last time, and God gave it. It is hard not to picture him in a cruciform position, arms stretched between that temple’s two pillars, pushing them apart with all his returned might, until they collapsed and the roof caved in on himself and the rulers of the Philistines.
The Judge of this world – Jesus – was also a man of great strength. Led by God’s Spirit into the wild, he could fast for forty days and nights and return to Galilee in the Spirit’s power; He could order evil spirits to leave and they would; He could go around doing good and healing those under the power of the devil; He could endure being bound and tortured and paraded before the people until stretched cruciform by the shame of the cross and be raised from the dead by the power of God. Then He could, through His riches, strengthen us with power through His Spirit in our inner being. For his greatest strength was His passion for His bride, given Him by His Father – and for doing God’s will for her. And with that rock-like strength, He said that the gates of death could not prevail against her, for He had bound the strength of Satan, and robbed him of his goal.
God of the Spirit which strengthened Samson and Your Son, we beg the strength that goes beyond what is found in ordinary bread. We ask the strength of character that seeks to do Your will; to love You with heart, mind, soul and strength – and to love those around us as ourselves. We ask for the power of the Body of Christ, the power of resurrection giving us new life beyond this one and new life within this one. We ask for this through the One who gave His body, remembered in this bread. Amen.
Father of the Son whose blood was given for us, we renew our prayer to be set apart for your purposes as the Nazirites once were; not for indulgence in the ordinary wine craved by self, but for the extraordinary cup which You offer through Christ. We know that You did not let this cup pass from Him, and we know that what it holds for us is not freedom from shame or pain, but freedom from sin and guilt – and the promise of life without end, life with and through the One who bears this prayer to You. Amen.