08 Apr 2019 - by Stephen Pickard
Budget night has come and gone. Between budget promises and the politics of the May election is nestled Easter. Yet Easter too concerns matters of the economy (e.g. surpluses/deficits, exchange and re-distribution, justice and incentives) together with a good dose of politics, rivalry, desertion and betrayal.
However, the Easter story is played out on a far broader canvas than the usual political preoccupations with economics and budgets, great financial deals for the lucky few, and promises which, it seems, money can indeed buy. It can easily become a race to see who might harness the populist vote with all sorts of enticements for the hapless voter. Though this too is reminiscent of that first Palm Sunday ride into Jerusalem. Here too we hear the popular voices of the crowd full of adulation and praise to one who is the focus of their aspirations and hopes. When they are disappointed they will demand blood. Beware the crowd. Beware too those in religious and political authority who live with a sense of entitlement and presume to know what is best for the people. Their sneers of derision as Jesus enters the Holy City will shortly be directed to harnessing the populist cause as they seek the end of one whom they both fear and despise.
And all this is just the beginning of Holy Week as the great exchange between God and human kind is played out: God’s life for the world’s; undeserved suffering and death of an innocent in exchange for life for all.
What occurs is a surprise result. The crucified One of Good Friday is elected and installed as the risen Christ by the power of God’s Spirit. It’s contrary to all expectations; and not a victory all will or can accept. But in the 2 millennia since that first Easter the good news is that an irrevocable re-distribution of power, wealth, wisdom and mercy has occurred. The Easter story is about all receiving the fullness of God’s mercy and grace regardless of circumstance. It is truly a just re-distribution of the benefits of divine blessing.
It is this great re-distribution of goodness and love that underpins the long tradition of Christian compassion and advocacy for the poor, the marginalised, the victims of injustice and the hungry in body, mind and spirit, no matter whomever they be. Of course the Church’s track record is deeply tainted by the shadow of its own failures to live up to its highest calling in this regard. But there is much more to the Easter story. And this is the reason why thousands of Christians in Australia will join with those of other religious traditions and all people of goodwill on Palm Sunday to raise again the plight of asylum seekers and refugees. It is the reason for the Church’s stand with friends and colleagues in the Muslim community in the wake of the brutalities of Christchurch.
If Easter is truly the story of the gift of life for all then such examples of solidarity ought not be thought unusual but simply the natural result of a joyful faith in the God who raises the dead.
Grace and peace to all this Easter 2019