Kardia Formation

Strengthening Spirit – Releasing Potential

Companionship of Empowerment

Domonic Crossan first coined the term ‘companionship of empowerment’ in 1998.[1]  Dairmuid O’Murchu unpacks this suggestion in his Christian Life Essay Lets Get Rid of the Kingdom of God.  O’Murchu argues that the imagery of the Kingdom of God as used by Jesus in the Gospels over 140 times has likely lost its meaning in the translation from Aramaic which would have been the language used by Jesus in his teaching.  ‘In Aramaic, a likely translation is that of  Malkuta which is feminine, and in the corresponding Hebrew, Kingdom is rendered as Mamlaka which is also feminine.’[2]  Kingdom on the other hand describes a rather masculine and patriarchal hierarchy in the order of things.

O’Murchu argues:Untitled

  • Whereas Kingdom denotes royal power and domination, privilege, exclusion and hierarchical control, the feminine versions used by Jesus denote something much more egalitarian, liberating and empowering, a quality of leadership that enables and empowers others to take the next step(s).[3]

And so, O’Murchu suggests, that perhaps the term ‘companionship of empowerment’ is a more appropriate description for what scripture scholars and translators have called ‘the Kingdom of God.’[4]

To be conscious of your participation in the Kingdom of God is to be conscious of your participation in God’s companionship of empowerment.  I think this sits well with the image of the Kingdom as described by Jesus as a mustard seed.

Jesus doesn’t describe a mustard tree or bush, but tiny seed, which eventually gets planted in a garden to provide more mustard seeds and a place for birds to rest.  It is easy to subconsciously see this giant, well-structured tree with powerful branches and lots of shade – but in fact the mustard tree is more like a small bush.  The tree has no control of where the seeds land, whether that is in rich soil, or rock, or in water.  The seed contains everything is needs to become a mustard tree – and the original tree allows it to leave the tree and become whatever the environment it lands in allows.[5]  It is a really rich metaphor – one that is about empowerment rather than control over;  an appropriate image for the ministry of spiritual direction and one that aptly describes the ministry of Kardia Formation P/L.

[1] John Domonic Crossan as cited in Marcus Borg, Jesus at 2000  (New York: Basic Books, 1998).

[2] Dairmuid O’Murchu, “Let’s Get Rid of “the Kingdom of God”,”  Christian Life (Essay 2)(2010), http://www.diarmuid13.com/christian-life-essay-2.

[3] Let’s Get Rid of “the Kingdom of God”.

[4] Let’s Get Rid of “the Kingdom of God”.

[5] I am drawing here on work by Andrew Menzies and Dean Phelan, Kingdom Communities: Shining the Light of Christ through Faith, Hope and Love  (Melbourne: Morningstar Publishing, 2018).