From Dr Richard Smith – Progressive Christian Network Western Australia
Ukraine and the Hope of Easter – My letter published in the West Australian last Saturday the last of three in that week.
Easter holidays, hot cross buns and chocolate eggs are with us, but this year against the backdrop of the agony of Ukraine. It is a poignant reminder of the first Easter when a Galilean Jew entered Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) to speak truth to the Roman Empire and their religious cronies about their gross abuse of power. Power used with massive brutality, fake news and corruption to accumulate massive wealth through conquest, enslavement and oppressive taxation of the poor. Justified by a compliant Senate that gave Caesar titles of pontifex maximus and son of God whose response to the Galilean’s appeal was to nail him to a wooden cross to die a painful death (Good Friday). But the Galilean’s followers remembered the day as Good Friday because his dream did not die but was repeatedly resurrected resulting over the millennia in our own democratic freedoms, institutions and opportunities.
This Easter story comes to its climax the following Sunday when the Galilean’s dream of a world at peace through distributive justice will be celebrated against the backdrop of the continuing epic struggle of the Ukrainian people for freedom from Russia’s brutal imperial past. Belief is that the Ukrainians’ dream of freedom and peace though distributive justice will never die, but eventually will come to fruition. A dream embraced by freedom loving people around the world who have joined the struggle with their prayers, donations and hospitality this Easter. A time for sober reflection, struggle and gratitude for our own democratic freedoms already being tested by our own impending election.
I love Palm Sunday because it is so political – crowd action on streets leading to persecution by the powerful. The conservatives see this as failure – hence their hopes of the heavenly Kingdom or the second coming.
I’m not sure we can hope for much. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus gives hope / blessing to the downtrodden; but to his followers the reward will be persecution.