It will probably come as no surprise that this week’s blog has an Easter theme. For many years I was part of a movement known as Reclaim Easter or the Awakening Movement. We also organized marches but unlike the 16 that took place around the country on Saturday, organized by Reclaim Australia, the marches we organized were not motivated by fear of a lifestyle that some see is in danger of disappearing.
Our marches called Christians and indeed the country to a new vision, new possibilities hallmarked by peace, colour, joy connectedness, by everyone finding their place to contribute. All made possible because of the resurrection of Jesus, and the beginning of the creation made new that this event heralded.
Whilst they were hard work at the time, and I remember the cold Easter mornings blowing up balloons, setting out the march route, setting up for the festival afterwards, they were great reminders of a possible world, a glimpse of a redeemed society. Not a society redeemed for a religious dogma, but a society become alive to its possibilities, its potential.
Some will recall that my blog included reference to a march last week, I promise this won’t become a habit, however it seems many people are willing to take to the streets to make their views known. Since the start of the Abbott government there have been many such protests, again predominantly from a negative standpoint. That is in opposition to something, not a positive statement about a potential future.
Motivators such as fear can never produce a hoped or longed for future. Its like when someone goes to a politician to complain that something is wrong in their community. I always wonder what they expect the politician to do about it. Sure I agree our elected representatives are there to listen and help where they can. In fact political leaders in ancient Israel were exhorted to be at the city gates and be prepared to listen to the needs of the people, entering into dialogue with them. However I think today that when many approach out leaders its with a ‘you need to fix this mentality.’ It’s like they have divested themselves of any responsibility and expect the politician to come up with a solution.
So back to the marches on the weekend, there seemed to be a sentiment of hate coming through, despite the organisers and speakers saying it wasn’t that they hated Muslims but that they didn’t want to live under Sharia law and opposed the teachings of Islam. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-05/bill-shorten-condemns-reclaim-australia-fears-as-exaggerated/6371506 For many who took part in the marches I can’t help thinking that their involvement was motivated by fear. And fear is generally based on ignorance. Pastor Brad Chilcott of Welcome to Australia called for those who marched and those who were part of counter marches to put the banners down and come to the table to get to know each other and for dialogue.
Like the unhappy constituent meeting with the politician, a better way to approach a political leader is to have in mind a preferred future and present the issue and a potential way forward. At this point the politician can also begin to think creatively and together a workable solution may just be happened upon.
Unfortunately I can imagine that for many who marched with Reclaim Australia coming to the table would be the last thing they would want to do. Their solution to the issue seems to be at least in simplicity that the people they think want to promote sharia law should go home. It’s like they have divested themselves of the responsibility of finding a workable solution for our country. A solution that would ultimately see Australia becoming a place that we can all call home.
Easter is a time of hope and new possibilities, as referred to in an Easter message at Collins St Baptist, where Carolyn Francis juxtaposed the light and dark that is evidenced in our world. And I’m sure we can all think of examples where darkness coexists next to light, in our families where one moment there is harmony, the next arguments. In our communities where there is beauty like the birth of babies and the darkness of crime and isolation. In our cities where there are amazing opportunities and hope and the darkness of unmediated commercial greed.
But in all of this Easter reminds us that the door to possibility, hope and a new beginning has been opened. Ross Gittens, economic writer for the Sydney Morning Herald, quoting Tomas Sedlacek a Czech economist reminds us that Easter is primarily about forgiveness both for us as individuals and the possibility of redemption for us as a society.
http://www.theage.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/jesus-the-great-debteliminator-20150406-1mdkxq.html We don’t have to put our hands in the air and say its all too hard. We don’t have to resign to fear of a future not of our own design. Easter is a sign of hope an ultimate eternal hope, but also a present one. I guess the challenge is will we hear the call to hope, to possibility, to new life and if we do hear the call will we respond and enter into the journey with others towards creating a new world full of possibility and potential for all.