Biblography/Links of Interest:
Hosanna, Jesus Christ, Superstar, 2000 –https://youtu.be/o8nGQSo9a2Y (I like this particular one because of Jesus and Judas’ reactions when the crowd asks him to fight for them.)
Do You Hear the People Sing, Les Miserables, 2012 –https://youtu.be/47E2tfK5QAg
Dancing With the Word, “The Donkey: The Subversive Choice” –http://words.dancingwiththeword.com/2016/03/the-donkey-subversive-choice.html
Sojourners, “Jesus Was a Protestor” –https://sojo.net/articles/jesus-was-protester
Canada AM, “Are Protests Becoming Irrelevant?” – http://canadaam.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=829612&playlistId=1.2819380&binId=1.815911&playlistPageNum=1&binPageNum=1
Micah White, “The Challenge of Protest” – https://www.micahmwhite.com/the-challenge-of-protest/
Open Parliament – https://openparliament.ca/debates/2016/2/18/tony-clement-1/?page=2
Moderator Jordan Cantwell’s Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau – http://www.united-church.ca/news/moderator-upholding-democratic-rights
Rex Hunt Liturgies –http://www.rexaehuntprogressive.com/liturgy_collection/year_c_liturgy_collection/year_c_liturgies_-_lenteast/palmc2032016.html
Ralph Milton, “Living God’s Way” or “Family Story Bible” –http://www.woodlakebooks.com/search/results/inventory/Whole-People-of-God/Bestsellers-Recommended-Titles/The-Family-Story-Bible
Opening (From “Living God’s Way” and Rex Hunt Liturgies, adapted)
Gong is sounded, Christ Candle is lit.
Voice 1: “Have you heard about Jesus?”
Voice 2: “Have you heard about the things he says and does?”
Voice 3: “Everybody knows Jesus!”
Voice 4: Jesus was becoming very famous. Some people began to wonder,
Voice 1: “Is Jesus the Messiah?”
Voice 2: “Is this the one God promised?”
Voice 4: Many people thought the Messiah would be like an army general.
Voice 3: The Messiah would gather soldiers and fight the Romans.
Voice 4: The Messiah would kill the people they didn’t like.
Voice 1: Some of Jesus’ disciples, like Peter, were sure Jesus was the Messiah.
Voice 2: But even Peter sometimes thought the Messiah would be an army general.
Voice 3: Because Jesus was famous, crowds of people came to see him wherever he went. So Jesus decided to show the people something important.
Voice 4: “I am going to go into Jerusalem, I want you to get me a donkey, so I can ride it into the city.”
Voice 1: “A donkey? Why not a big, strong horse?”
Voice 4: “No, a donkey. A small, young donkey. I don’t want to go into Jerusalem like a general on a horse. I don’t want to fight. If I ride on a donkey, people will know that I am coming to bring peace.”
Voice 2: The crowds gathered on both sides of the road when they heard Jesus was coming. Voice 3: They cheered and shouted as Jesus rode into Jerusalem. Some of them threw down their coats so the donkey could walk on something soft.
Voice 2: Others cut down some branches from trees for the donkey to walk on.
Voice 1: “Hosanna! Hosanna!”
Voice 3: Hosanna means “Save us now.”
Voice 2: Jesus didn’t like that.
Voice 4: “They still think I’m going to be a general. They think I’ve come to fight the Romans.” Voice 1: Most of the rulers didn’t understand Jesus either.
Voice 2: They thought the Messiah had to be a general who would fight people.
Voice 3: They didn’t understand what Jesus was trying to show them, when he rode into the city on a donkey.
Voice 2: When the rulers heard the people shout “Hosanna! Save us now!”, they began to feel afraid.
Voice 3: “If Jesus is going to be the Messiah, then he will be the ruler instead of us.”, thought the rulers.
Voice 1: “Jesus, tell your people to be quiet!”
Voice 3: “Order them to stop shouting!”
Voice 4: “Even if the people were silent, the stone themselves would start to sing and shout.”
The gong is sounded, first candle is lit
Voice 1: Jesus dared to live God’s way
in the midst of all the ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ of life.
We too are called to proclaim our faith faithfully
by the way we live, and treat one another.
The gong is sounded a second time, second candle is lit.
Voice 2: Jesus wanted his disciples to live passionate,
justice seeking, God centred lives.
The gong is sounded a third time, third candle is lit
Voice 3: Jesus, as human face of God, shared his whole life
that others might sense the new signs of hope
in their everyday lives.
The gong is sounded a fourth time, fourth candle is lit
Voice 4: Jesus answered the people’s cry in a most unusual way: He empowered them to save themselves.
The gong is sounded a fifth time, fifth candle is lit
Voice 2: Can you hear the people sing? Can you hear the rocks and stones shouting and singing?
The gong is sounded a sixth time, sixth candle is lit
Voice 1:The light waits –
Voice 2: Who will keep the light burning in our day?
Voice 3: Who will take the light into the world?
Voice 4: Who will carry the light into a new year?
All: Who will carry the light in this our city,
if we do not? What shall I do with these hands of mine?
The offering is a time for reflection. It is a time to consider the gifts you can offer and the impact they will have on others. It is a time to celebrate gifts that have impacted you.
May these gifts and those given through PAR offer us the opportunity to answer “Hosanna”. Amen.
Setting the scene
Let’s take a moment and reset the scene…The people are gathered just outside the city. They are not the wealthy people and they have no power. They come from many different backgrounds, but they all face the same oppressor: the chief priests and officials.
The meaning of the word Hosanna & the donkey
The people were shouting “save us!” They were begging to be freed from the oppressive nature of the chief priests and officials. They were begging for an end to the indentured service they faced as Hebrew people, and as people who didn’t necessarily fit the ideals of the people in control. They were begging to be saved because they were desperate. They wanted the leaders to be overthrown. They were so desperate, that they were begging a man on a donkey to save them.
The donkey was an interesting choice. Perhaps it was all that was available, perhaps it was all they could afford. Perhaps they really believed in budgeting and that’s what was budgeted. Or perhaps it was a specifically chosen symbol. Perhaps Jesus was trying his best to be honest with the people. He had no intention of battling anyone in any physical way. The people were expecting miraculous things of him and he rode in on a donkey. If he’d gone in on a horse, that would have only intensified their expectations.
The social situation of the time
The social situation at the time was not terribly different from our social situation. The rich were very rich, and the poor were very poor. The privileged people had no intention of sharing their privilege and used their power to keep things that way.
The Occupy Movement
The meaning of the word Protest
We’ve been hearing of lots of protests in the last number of years. We are, after all, standing on the edge of a social revolution. A protest now in this era is not a pleading cry for help. It is a step up and a step out of line, a line that is unfair, unjust, unmoral, or one of many other reasons. Many protests now go one of two routes: either the peaceful root that is eventually busted up by government or the more violent route which is inevitably ended with jail time.
Parallels between Palm Sunday and the Occupy Movement
I saw an interesting interview on Canada AM on Wednesday morning with Dr. Micah White. He wrote “The End of Protest” and was one of the instigators of the Occupy Movement. Remember the Occupy Movement? It was one of the biggest world-wide protests ever. It was well justified too. Whatever came of it? You never heard? That’s because nothing came of it. When asked if he was ok with the fact that the Occupy Movement failed, Micah replied “We’ve been overthrowing kings and tyrants for thousands of years. Occupy was just another episode in that long storyline of uprisings. There will be another one. At the same time, there will only be able to be another one if we’re able to let go of our nostalgia for the past. We have to let go of Occupy in order to create another Occupy.”
Palm Sunday and the Occupy Movement are similar in many ways. Both were ground swell movements that made their way around the world. Palm Sunday and Occupy were both movements to free people from oppression: Palm Sunday was more of a release from social oppression and Occupy was more of a release from economic oppression. Both protested systemic oppression. Both Occupy and Palm Sunday ended far differently than their participants expected. In both cases, those in control kept doing what they were doing. At the same time, I think it’s also true that the people who protested in both cases were also profoundly changed.
Even though Occupy wasn’t “successful” in the traditional sense, Micah himself, had some major learnings. He was able to see some of the theory he had been studying play out, and gave him perspective on revolution in general.
Micah says there are four theories of revolution that need to be in balance before real change can happen: “one theory of revolution is called voluntarism. This is the belief that the actions of humans create social change. Another perspective is structuralism. This means that economic forces, outside of human control, such as food prices, cause revolution. The third perspective is that revolutions are an inner process inside of the individual only; this is called subjectivism. In this perspective, revolutions are actually a change of mind and we just need to meditate and change our perspective on reality. How we see reality actually changes and that becomes a revolutionary shift. The fourth is that revolution is a supernatural process that doesn’t involve humans at all. This is known as theurgism; it’s the idea that revolution is a divine intervention.” Micah also suggests that until we are able to structure ourselves to compete with those we are protesting to, any change we are able to inspire will be minimum at best. This is where I think the Christian movement differed from the Occupy Movement. The Christian church or churches became the structure that competed with the oppressor. It’s also where I think we are still relevant: the church’s origin rests in a movement meant to bring justice and free oppressed people. We are still called to do this.
Setting the current scene
Economically, we’re not in a terribly different situation than we were at the beginning of the Occupy Movement. We are in a different political situation though, and hopefully, we’re all in a bit more aware of how our individual actions impact the lives of others. Yes, things are still desperate, but we are no longer begging for help. We will work to change what we can, and change our perspective on what we can’t change. The rest we need to leave it up to Love.
The Moderator Letter to the Prime Minister
Last week Ruth Ann spoke about the moderator’s call to action. Today, we’ve heard the letter. The decision on the subject of the letter has been decided, and it didn’t go the way the Moderator had hoped for. Unfortunately, the MP for this area Bernadette Jordan, voted for the bill – even though the MPs talked about both sides of the issue: the rights to protest and the effects that protesting can have on the wider public. There is no clear cut answer here. Yes and No: neither are good options here. Doing nothing isn’t an option either. While I hate leaving things unfinished, sometimes, like Palm Sunday, things can’t really be finished. All we can do is talk about it and figure out what we’ve learned from the situation, even though it remains unresolved and work on balancing the four types of revolution. So whatever it is you are needing to protest, figure out what you can do to help others, educate yourself and others on the structures that are keeping the situation unjust, find your way to your own personal transformation, and then look for the divine intervention – the love in the situation. What are you protesting? What are the stakes involved? What are you doing to help others? How have you been personally transformed? Where is the Love in the situation? Amen.