Easter for the 21st Century

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Palm-Cross

On the last Sunday in Lent, I preached about domination, and the symbol of the cross. I compared the lives of Jesus of Nazareth living under the domination of Rome, with Archbishop Oscar Romero, living under the domination of a the ruling elite, and military dictatorship in El Salvador. The comparison is but a jumping off point as it speaks to all forms of domination be it in the workplace, within our cities, governments, or society.

During Lent at St. George’s, we only use the frame of our cross, here you see it pictured above from our Palm Sunday service.  I directed people to look at the space inside the cross frame…..it’s nothing but air; and that’s what God thinks of those who dominate. I think it provides an important metaphor: Domination systems come and go; to God they are nothing but air.

The form of the cross represents human suffering at the hands of things which dominate our lives. The cross frame reminds us that we, who may suffer from forms of domination, are to take part, with God, in the transformation of the world.

If, on Easter Sunday, we merely shout, “He is Risen”, we are only talking about resuscitation. Resurrection, on the other hand, speaks of global transformation without a system of domination, breaking free from the chains preventing us from living into fullness.

How?

It was Oscar Romero who said, “You can, you are.”

Indiana’s Slippery Slope

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A little over two thousand years ago a radical religious teacher organized a protest designed to mock and malign an authoritarian occupying force holding his country hostage. So one day, just after the military governor rode into the city on his great war horse ahead of his soldiers, the radical religious grassroots leader rode into the city on a donkey with his people waving palms instead of spears. He did this to tell the authoritarian occupying force that they may have control, but they only do so because they are bullies. He and his followers staged a non-violent protest ridiculing their power by force.

The next day he made his way into the courtyard of a large religious institution to a common area which served as a way for merchants to sell items used for worship. His goal was to disrupt religious practices that day to show the rest of the people that the leaders of this institution had collaborated with foreign invaders pointing out that they had become mere puppets of those at the top of political power, and that a hierarchy of authority had become an idol surpassing that of God. He taught that God’s message was to call all people into unity.

Their leader was an accomplished community organizer because he knew he could not do things alone. One of the names for his movement was called “The Way”, and he trained and sent his people out into various communities to start small conclaves to show that they were not forgotten, that they were loved, and that his people would serve their needs, not rule over them. He showed that the message of God was about community, not authority. He taught that they should love God with heart, soul and strength, and to be committed to their neighbor’s well being.

He pissed off both the occupying army governor, and the ruling class but since he staged his protests with lots of people, he thought he might get away with his demonstrations, but his plan was thwarted by one of his students. He was captured, and eventually executed by the government. These are some of the events many churches in the land will focus on in what is known as Holy Week; the time between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday on April 5.

I hope this overview exposes the blatant falsehood surrounding the creation of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed into law by  Gov. Mike Pence. Just as in the early first century, religious authority was used as a means to circumvent the well being of people, this act signed into law sets into motion all manner of ways people can use personal belief as a means to idolize bigotry in the name of God. Read More


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