Which Procession Have You Joined?

Tracy Hughes - Colombia

I have fond memories of celebrating Palm Sunday: little children carrying palm fronds parading around the sanctuary to the sounds and words of "All Glory, Laud, and Honor," while parents and other congregants sing and watch the joyous procession which ends by placing the palm fronds at the altar for all to see. This is always a Sunday of celebration, joy and praise.

Tracy Hughes - Colombia

I have fond memories of celebrating Palm Sunday: little children carrying palm fronds parading around the sanctuary to the sounds and words of "All Glory, Laud, and Honor," while parents and other congregants sing and watch the joyous procession which ends by placing the palm fronds at the altar for all to see. This is always a Sunday of celebration, joy and praise.

CPT Lectionary Reflections for Lent - Year C
The following is part of a series of Lenten reflections incorporating experiences of Christian Peacemaker Teams and based on readings from the Revised Common Lectionary, Year C.

Focus: Palestine
Readings: Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29; Luke 19: 28-40

Which Procession Have You Joined?
By Tracy Hughes

Once we step beyond the joyous celebration, we encounter the theological depth of the day's events. Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, in the book The Last Week: A Day-by-Day account of Jesus' Final Week in Jerusalem, reminds us that there were actually two processions during Passover.

"One was a peasant procession, the other an imperial procession. Jesus' procession proclaimed the kingdom of God; Pilate's proclaimed the power of the empire. Pilate's military procession was a demonstration of both Roman imperial power and Roman imperial theology. Jesus' procession embodied an alternative vision, the kingdom of God. Pilate's procession was the procession of the domination system of the early first century. Jesus' procession deliberately countered the domination system of the Roman Empire.

The two processions embody the central conflict of the week that led to Jesus' crucifixion" (pgs. 2-4.)

Domination systems are still a controlling force in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The domination system of military power and violence, the domination system of economic oppression, and the domination system of human degradation ravage the West Bank and Israel. CPT volunteers have chosen to deliberately counter these domination systems along with the Palestinians and Israelis who also choose the alternative path of the kingdom of God.

As a CPT Corps member I have been taught how to stand against systems of dominations by the strength shown to me through watching and experiencing Palestinians stand against the use of deadly violence, economic violence and daily dehumanization at the hands of Israeli soldiers and Israeli settlers in the streets of Hebron and in the communities of the South Hebron Hills.

These Palestinians and the Israelis who support them are actively living - partaking in the kingdom of God - seeking the humanity of the other and choosing nonviolent, peace focused actions that are rooted in justice and love rather than violence and dehumanization.

Issa is a Palestinian man who has chosen creative nonviolence as a path in life as a young Muslim living in the city of Hebron. Issa is a leader of an international peace group working in Hebron and throughout the West Bank.

One afternoon, while accompanying a Palestinian man who was beaten by a group of Israeli settler teens, Issa, a member of International Solidarity Movement and I were stopped and detained by Israeli soldiers three times.

Besides causing great delays in Issa's life and work, this put him at increased risk of arrest or harm by Israeli soldiers or settlers. Our final detainment was at Gates 4/5 near the Israeli settlement of Avraham Avinu.

While sitting on some steps Issa pointed to the building directly in front of us in the center of the two gates. The middle house is the home of his birth, where he spent the first years of his life, where he played soccer on the roof patio and played in the streets and walked to school. Issa and his family left their home when Issa was in early elementary school. They were forced to leave by the increasing strength and violence of the domination system of the Israeli occupation government and military.

The gate that leads to Issa's family home opens onto Shuhadda Street, a street that is closed to all Palestinian movement. Most homes and stores on the street have been destroyed and abandoned by Palestinian civilians whose life and work used to flourish there. The Israeli military has closed Shuhadda Street for the last six years - calling it a 'sterile' zone, an area where no Palestinian is allowed to walk, work, drive or access their homes. This is only one example of how Issa and other Palestinians live under the domination system of the Israeli occupation.

Recently, the Israeli military leadership publicly stated that the closing of Shuhadda Street was a mistake and that now it is open to Palestinian movement. Incredible stories of faithfulness to God and active creative nonviolence began to be reported in the media. Palestinians organized peaceful demonstrations, confronting the domination system that closed Shuhadda Street for six long years. At one demonstration a group of Palestinians challenged the local Israeli soldiers that refused them access to the newly opened street by joining arms and walking down the street.

More stories revealed the power and courage of the Palestinians as they "deliberately countered the domination system" of the Israeli occupation - Palestinians showing the world community how to faithfully challenge dehumanizing domination through courageous actions of persistence, creative nonviolence, and courage.

Issa and many other Palestinians could have easily succumbed to the pressure of living under such strong policies and actions of the domination systems that try to control all aspects of their lives and chose revenge, violence or hatred. But they chose life; they chose love. Issa and his neighbors chose to join the procession of the kingdom of God.

Which procession have you joined? Are you among the members of Pilate's procession proclaiming the strength of the domination system through your life choices and actions? Or are you among the members of Jesus' procession proclaiming the vision of the kingdom of God?

Prayer: Steadfast and Loving God, lead us in the way of your Kingdom. As we continue to search our hearts and actions for faithful living and discipleship, we rejoice in the love, compassion and strength of Jesus' teaching and living. Strengthen us for our journey into Holy Week and lead us to a resurrection of our lives and human community so that healing and reconciliation can offer us all transformation through your love. Amen

Tracy Hughes
Tracy is serving as a long-term volunteer.  She serves with the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) based in Barrancabermeja, ColombiaShe is currently serving in Israel-Palestine.


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