Saturday, 8 April 2017

Protest or Acclamation

Political action takes two forms, the one is protest and the other is acclamation, both have origins that extend back into history and to a certain extent are buried within religious liturgy.  Today, we see both forms in action across the country in the form of politically motivated protests around the release of refugees from detention and the other in the form of a re-enactment of Christ's arrival in Jerusalem (Matt.21.1-10).  Both of these actions are valid in their own right but on the Sunday when we read the Passion my question is whether they are appropriate for the day?

My concern arises, around protest rather than around acclamation, but there is a validity to concern around both.  In recent years the Australian public have been encouraged to take part in the Palm Sunday protests against the continuing policies of the Australian government around its immigration policies and the detention of refugees / immigrants coming to the country via 'illegal' means.  The nature of protest is to draw attention to a political reality that continues or creates an injustice within the public realm.  In doing so on Palm Sunday the Christian Church draws attention to the situation through the lens of Christ's approach to Jerusalem and the resultant injustices of the week ahead.  However, a protest, to have effect upon the body politic, it must disrupt that body in such away that it will take note and re-consider the matter.  The building pressure upon the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, is perhaps a case in point.  In this case the Primate of Southern Africa has taken the stance that the Church will continue to be politically involved and continue to bring pressure to bear on unjust politics in a public manner, having been asked to stay out of politics.  How much disruption, if any, to the body politic does the rally on Palm Sunday cause? or has it become a blase outing for the committed?  Does it not create a  minimisation of the acclamatory march earlier in the day by drawing attention away from Christ's entry into Jerusalem?

Acclamation for Christ or protest against tyranny?

In the earlier marches of the day we acclaim Christ's presence as he enters Jerusalem.  We like those who have gone before rejoicing in Christ's presence as he enters into our lives at the beginning of a week that is devoted to his passion, death and Resurrection.  The original entry into Jerusalem was one that brought crowds of joyous people to celebrate what they conceived as the Son of David coming to take his throne.  A political move of note that received the public acclaim and political approbation of the crowds that were present. A direct confrontation with the Roman powers and Temple collaborative hierarchy of the day.  In other words a disruptive protest but undertaken with acclaim.  We participate by showing our willingness to acclaim Christ our King knowing full well that this leads to his death and the Resurrection   Our willingness to join in the acclamation is a demonstration of our willingness to participate in the burden of the cross at the end of the week, to join with Christ.  It is our participation in the passion of the week that renders our lives changed on Easter morning.

The event of acclamation has a greater disruptive power on our lives than the event of protest later in the day.  Yet the event of protest minimises the event of acclamation as it draws the attention of the world away from the events of the week.  In participating in the event of acclamation and then going on to an event of protest that does little to affirm the event of acclamation or disruption of the body politic, are we fulfilling Christ's call to live his passion in our lives?  In undertaking both forms of political disruption on the same day have we removed the political intentions inherent in both actions?

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