Jesus’ New Kind of Politics
On Palm Sunday I led Vespers at Terwilliger Plaza, a retirement community near the center of Portland, Oregon. In my homily I described the vision of a new world that Jesus embodied. I also outlined the new kind of politics that he demonstrated.
- He set aside all of the marks of success, power, and military might.
- He spoke boldly to people in power, calling attention to their duplicity and slyly ridiculing them.
- He used his energies and insights into human behavior to help people in practical ways, helping them find food and healing them from their ailments.
- He continually talked about a new world that was coming, a world in which all things worked the way God and the prophets had said that they were supposed to.
- He drew upon spiritual strength that enabled him to keep going even when he could tell that if he persisted he was likely to be tortured and executed.
- At every point he depended upon persuasion rather than upon physical force.
- He refused to back down.
The sharp contrast between the new kind of politics that Jesus represents and the old form of politics that dominates American life today was much in my mind as I prepared the prayer that followed the homily.
A Prayer for Palm Sunday 2016
Eternal God, on this Palm Sunday we join with people through the ages who have rejoiced in Jesus Christ who came to live among us. By his words and actions, he proclaimed a vision of the world in which all things work the way that you intend. In this world the seasons move through their annual cycles. Rains fall in timely fashion watering the earth, and all things living find the nourishment they need. People everywhere are bound into communities of love and mutual support.
We remember the patterns of leadership that Jesus used which differ so much from those that governments of this world choose: self-giving instead of self-serving; focused on ordinary people and their needs rather than upon the already privileged and powerful; and based on hope and love rather than on fear and greed.
Forgive us when we forget the politics of Jesus and turn to the politics of this world. Help us remain faithful to the example that Jesus set which he kept steadfastly even in the face of torture and death.
Holy One, during this election season we pray for our nation. Purge our leaders of their desire for prestige and love of power. Help all of us—the people and the politicians—to find ways of working together so that liberty and justice will flourish over all of the world.
We pray for people around the who suffer and especially for refugees who struggle to survive in camps with no place to go and no way to relieve their anguish. Strengthen aid workers and public officials as they seek to solve the ever deepening turmoil of our time and find ways to redeem the people who are suffering so deeply.
In the name of Jesus, Prince of Peace who wept over the people of Jerusalem, we offer this prayer. Amen.