A few weeks ago a small group of Christian friends shared a prayer vigil to pray for humanity in Australia's handling of asylum seekers. Taking place in the Federal Minister, Scott Morrison's office they were arrested, but yesterday the case was dismissed. What a beautiful way to approach Palm Sunday! Like Jesus' humble protest on the first Palm Sunday against the power and oppression of his own day, we are recalled to the power of nonviolent love. Of course, the policies remain in place, but there is another notch in the transforming of our consciousness as well as political and media publicity. May the Spirit continue to move in all kinds of ways to change our outlooks and actions. Jarod McKenna puts it well in how 'Easter Made Me Do It'.
When I reflect on this Sunday's Gospel in the context of recent events, I have to say that I start thinking of the plight of asylum seekers and of our current national policies towards them. This, for me, is not so much about politics but above all about our sense of compassion. When Jesus heard about Lazarus and thought about him, we are told he wept. When we open our ears and eyes to the appalling plight of the world’s asylum seekers, should we not be weeping too? - weeping, crying out and working for new life? Instead, I fear that we, as a nation, are in danger of simply reinforcing the door to the asylum seekers’ tomb. For it is a place of great fear and horror and death, and we would rather not smell the stench, never mind do much about it. Instead of opening up the path to new life for asylum seekers, we are therefore in danger of simply building new tombs for them, in places like PNG and Cambodia. With appropriate prudence, might we not do better to heed the words of Moses and Jesus: unbind them, and let them go!? For the problem with shutting up the stench of life, our fear and death, is that, in doing so, we also block off new life. Whether as individuals or as a nation, we deny ourselves the possibility of true resurrection. We may shut our fears away but they are still there. Our hearts know this and they will shrivel until we face them. We become lesser people, and a lesser nation, than we might be, and we undermine our compassion. May God set us free. In the name of the Holy One who sought asylum with his family in a foreign land: in the name of Jesus who raised Lazarus from the dead, Amen.
Jo Inkpin is an Anglican priest serving as Minister of Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, a trans woman, theologian & justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice & sustainable creation.