I suggest you link to the John Pilger article on the M&G website. He describes how this Paul Weinberg photo has given him strength over the years - to continue to stand up to the powers of force and violence and control.
He quotes Milan Kundera, who writes: “The struggle of people against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”
That is the work of faithful spirituality. This is what Jesus does with the disciples who are so quick to forget. In the face of horrific violence they forget his life and teaching, his principles and his foot-washing example… They forget in the face of fear.
Fear has a way of doing that - making us forget what got us started on this path in the first place.
Jesus encourages the two disciples on the road to Emmaus to remember the long story of God’s faithfulness - as a way of helping them to overcome the fear of their immediate circumstances. “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25)
We were once moved by a vision of the Kingdom - a kingdom of peace and justice. A place of respect and dignity. Jesus painted the picture, in the long tradition of the prophets, of a time when the lion would lie down with the lamb. And he encouraged his disciples to pray “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. It was powerful and moving vision of a transformed world where power was used to free and build, not constrain and punish.
But power has a way of wanting more power. And control doesn’t let go of control easily. It fights and beats and maims and kills. It lies and exagerates and holds on to the bitter end. Why not? It’s got everything to lose! If control loses control then it’s lost everything!
So it beats us into submission and helps us to forget.
We forget the vision of Jesus - the kingdom of God.
We forget that God has called us to be partners in freeing people to live abundant lives.
We forget that the church and the bible and everthing religious will return to dust in the face of the Reign of God. They are not ends in themselves but simply means to an end - the purpose and will of God.
But, frustratingly, God will not move to control things toward the Kingdom. (of course God could take charge on this earth and establish the Kingdom in an instant.) To take control would be to adopt the way of control - which always leads to the protection of that control. If God were to take charge - he would have to continue to take charge. Rather he resists taking charge. He resists resorting to the way of violence. In stead God surrenders to the punishment violent and controlling people deserve - he recieves the punishment controlling people will always enforce and impose on those who refuse to submit to their control - their “word”. He does not so much speak a “word” - his non-violent resistance IS the Word - the Word of God for us: the eternal encouragement of God to trust the way of invitation andself-giving love, over powerful attempts to control and force history into submission and obedience.
When will we get it?
God does not force us to obey? He will not and will never. The Cross is the most powerful symbol of surrender to the violence of other that we will ever be given.
God is waiting.
(repentance means - stop fighting, stop controlling, stop insisting, stop condemning, stop condemning, stop condemning, stop. and start loving, praying, waiting, listening, watching, praying, praying, praying…)
…to be continued…