We need to stop trying to fix up people so that the system works better, and start fixing up the system so that people work better. Thelma Goodrich
I’m writing a sermon for Palm Sunday. It’s the time when we remember that Jesus rode into the gates of power on a borrowed donkey. Consistent with his teachings, his choice of mount had much to say about his notions of power. Power: Holy power and communal power and individual power. Power is meant to be mustered by people of faith; not to “get along” in a world where more are in want, but to recreate with God’s help a world in which people work better.
Our systems are broken. This is clear. What is also clear is that we are wont to finger point in order to busy ourselves with righteous indignation. In so doing we vent our anxieties and change nothing. The systems remain broken. Our world remains bound.
And the parade continues. The parade that begins in cheering hope and ends in a slink away to muttering because really, it is easy to cheer but oh so hard to live these teachings brought to us by the donkey rider.
How do we change the system? We remember who we are. We are the followers of the one who named each as holy. We are the followers of the one who maintained that we have heart and courage enough to create God’s vision for wholeness here on this God-blessed earth. We are the followers who know our penchant for quick fixes and the thrill of other-condemnation and we pray about that. We are the followers who choose to follow by opening ourselves to the message and to hope and to the power of living our values in community and the thrill of inviting the world to the table of grace because there is enough for all in the God vision taught us by the Christ. Enough grace, and enough food, and enough compassion: enough.
Sometimes the broken barbs of the system lodge themselves in our hearts. We lose hope that there can ever be another way.
But then we take in a parade featuring a man on a donkey and we remember that while it is can-get-you-killed work, it is our work, this healing of systems that crucify too many.