My seat in the semi-circle
Yesterday was a great day at Restoration. Abundant sunshine, some awesome banjo playing, daylight saving time-related sleep deprivation… Great stuff!
Since yesterday morning, I’ve found myself coming back over and over to one image in David’s sermon: the Sanhedrin’s semi-circle. The Sanhedrin were the council of Jewish leaders to whom the Romans had given extraordinary legal authority — religious, civil, and criminal. They were the council to whom Jesus was brought after he was betrayed by Judas. And when they heard cases, the Sanhedrin sat in a semi-circle, with Caiaphas the high priest sitting right in the center seat.
David suggested that one of the reasons Caiaphas had Jesus killed was to protect his seat in the semi-circle. Jesus was a threat to the peace and quiet of Israel (which Caiaphas was in charge of preserving), and Jesus’ innate authority was a threat to the humanly crafted authority that Caiaphas had spent a career carefully creating. Caiaphas loved that seat in the semi-circle, and he’d do anything — including killing an innocent man — to keep it.
There’s something about the image of the semi-circle that gets me. Maybe because it’s so arbitrary. It’s just a shape; there’s no reason the Sanhedrin couldn’t have sat in a circle, or a square, or a dodecahedron. But they were attached to that semi-circle, and Caiaphas was attached to his place in the middle of it.
So I’ve been wondering…
What’s my semi-circle? What’s the arbitrary sense of order that I’ve imposed on my life that I can’t stand to have threatened?
And what’s my seat in the middle? What am I clinging to that gives me a sense of importance, of authority? What am I doing to keep Jesus far, far away from it?
And what might happen if I gave it up?
March 15, 2011 @ 3:36 pm
I assumed the semi-circle shape would allow the more senior/influential members of the Sanhedrin to sit in the middle, while the more junior members would be seated towards the periphery. Kind of like how the leader of a group sits at the head of the table.
I fully endorse the dodecahedron seating arrangement for Restoration’s vestry meetings, however.