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Palm Sunday: most political Sunday of the year

I like to play games. I don’t choose to play games as dangerous as Jesus did on Palm Sunday as he engaged in a spot of street theatre in a very volatile setting.  We like to bring a lot of drama to Palm Sunday services. We dress the day up with lots of palm branches and banners and joyous songs. We love Palm Sunday, don’t we? But that is the modern version of Palm Sunday. The original Palm Sunday was a little bit different. It was no cutesy and hallmark holiday. It was aggressive and it was deeply political. In Roman occupied Jerusalem laying down branches ahead of a man riding a donkey was an act of defiance and an aggressive political statement. Jesus engaged in a little street theatre. And the people responded, expressing their yearning to be free, believing this guy was going to change things and restore what was lost. In this context, teaching a child to wave a palm branch was akin to teaching a child to stick up their middle finger in anger … only more political. Perhaps we have sanitised, sterilised, or compartmentalised the teaching of scripture. Palm Sunday is a call for revolution against the powers of oppression, the systems and institutions that occupy foreign lands and repress its citizens with unjust practices and economic policies. Our friends from Timor Leste know what that is about, although it’s so painful they will seldom talk about it. That is why many Christians will join the “Walk for Justice for Refugees.” If we are serious about our Bibles, then Palm Sunday is the most political Sunday of the year.

(Rev) Stan

 

Visions of hope

We are assured that we all have dreams. It’s just that some of us remember them, and some of us don’t. Some dreams are nice, some are not nice, even downright scary. There is a whole school of study around interpretation of the dreams we have, in the belief that they are ways of us processing the realities of our everyday lives. The dream that Ezekiel had in today’s OT reading was truly a weird one. In this strange tale we capture glimpses of hope and restoration offered to an oppressed and homeless and demoralised people. As we read that story again today perhaps we might bring to mind the images of refugee camps and detention centres that we see on the news, and pray for new hope for these suffering people.

(Rev) Stan

 

Do we really have a ‘right’ to be a bigot?

The subject of one’s ‘right’ to be a bigot and abuse other people has aroused passions this week, particularly when our Attorney General declares that people have a legal right to be bigoted free speech. It might surprise some of us Christians to discover that in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus called some people ‘dogs’ and ‘swine’ (Mat 7:6). But before we suppose that excuses Christians to be bigoted and abusive Jesus was talking about people who do not appreciate spiritual treasures and are judgmental of other people. Jesus was thoroughly aligned with the marginalized, standing constantly with them against those who maligned them and abused them. The majority do not need the protection of the law against minority groupings. They have numbers and resources to protect them from victimisation. The minority groupings in our community, the marginalized people in our community, do need the protection of the law. They have no other protection. The bigoted majority need no protection from the marginalized. On the contrary the minority do need the protection of the law as protection against abuse and victimization. The supposed test of “reasonable public opinion” is unenforceable. When one can reasonably understand that what they are saying is demeaning and abusive of another, the law must draw the line and provide a boundary so that our community is a safe place for everybody.

 

(Rev) Stan

 

Are we serious?

I admit that the political climate in this country confuses me increasingly with time.  But then I read this research finding, and I was even more confused by the psyche of the Australian people:

 In a new report examining Australians’ responses to climate change the CSIRO found that that people are inaccurate when predicting the views of other Australians. When asked about the nature of climate change, fewer than 8% of respondents were of the opinion it was not happening at all, yet these respondents estimated that almost 50% of the Australian public would share their view.

However, a large majority of people think climate change is happening, and are slightly more likely to attribute climate change to humans than to natural fluctuations in Earth’s temperature.

On a more hopeful note people are slightly more positive about the potential outcomes of responding to climate change and thinking that responding to climate change would provide a sense of purpose, provide people with an opportunity to be part of something bigger, and foster greater community spirit.

 Put that alongside reports from credentialed, peer-reviewed scientific reports forecasting increasingly dire consequences while politicians continue to avoid the hard facts right under their noses. The need for people of faith to remain active in advocating for more appropriate political and economic responses, but also diligent in our own contributions to this ever-more-urgent need to change the way we live. But I’m also heartened by the note of hopefulness. We do have an opportunity to become part of something big and meaningful, which is what I suspect every human being most craves in life.

(Rev) Stan

 

Looking forward to your Easter eggs?

Did you know that a child as young as 10 may have been trafficked to create your Easter egg?

Easter is big business for chocolate companies all over the world. Despite improvements in the chocolate industry, human trafficking remains an ongoing and deep seated problem. Due to the hidden and illegal nature of human trafficking, gathering statistics on the scale of the problem is difficult. The latest estimates of child labour on cocoa farms in the Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana came from organisations such as the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), UNICEF and Tulan University. These figures vary from 300,000 to 1 million between 2007-2013.

Change is happening. Commitments are being made. Global chocolate companies like Mars, Ferrero and Hershey have made commitments to use 100% certified cocoa for their entire range by 2020. Mondeléz, the world’s largest chocolate company, is lagging behind!

This Easter play your part and buy only “traffik-free chocolate”. Let’s show the chocolate industry that we will not give up until every chocolate Easter egg is Traffik-Free!

(Rev) Stan