Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey —
We are in the week that changed the world! Over 2000 years ago the nonviolent Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to fulfill the scripture from Zechariah Chapter 9: 9 – 10: “Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion! Shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass. He shall banish the war chariot of Ephraim, and the war horse from Jerusalem. The warrior’s bow shall be banished, and he shall proclaim peace to the nations. His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”
So Holy Week begins with a peaceful march on Palm Sunday. Peace is a beautiful gift to have in life, and it is particularly treasured by those who have known violent conflict, war, famine, disease and poverty. I believe that peace is a basic human right for every individual and all people. The nonviolent Jesus was the Prince of Peace.
Jesus also was the embodiment of Love. Love for others and respect for their rights and their human dignity, irrespective of who or what they are, no matter what religion – or none – that they choose to follow, will bring about real change and set in motion proper relationships. With such relationships built on equality and trust, we can work together on so many of the threats to our common humanity.
Violence begets violence, as we witness every day on our television screens, so the choice no longer is between violence and non-violence; it is nonviolence or non-existence as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said. For me nonviolence has my vote over non-existence, so what am I going to do to ensure there is a place for those coming after me? As I told folks on Sunday, I feel compelled to keep nonviolence in front of you through education in various forms: Sunday talks, classes, by bringing in people like Fr John Dear and Rob Levin, a Portland attorney who will be sharing with us on April 8 how a spiritual leading called him to Civil Disobedience.
Because of Fr. John’s recent visit, a group met this past Sunday to discuss this exact issue and to look at what is percolating within folks regarding nonviolence and to start the conversations to address some of the violence using nonviolent methods. This group will be meeting again on April 8 at 2:30 p.m. if you want to join them. It is through coming together as a community that we deepen our nonviolence, our faith and trust in God and our compassion for others, even those who would harm us.
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he was revealing that the reign of God is in stark contrast to the reign of Rome and every other political system that seeks triumphant victory by influencing people through violence and coercion.
The Gospel of Jesus subverts the politics of violence because the Gospels are the politics of humility, service, forgiveness, and a nonviolent love that embraces all people, but especially those we call our enemies. He called it “The Kingdom of God.”
The politics of Jesus makes sure everyone has daily bread, it seeks to forgive debts and sins, it avoids the temptation to commit evil against our neighbors, and it calls us into a life of forgiveness. Wherever personal or political systems use violence, power, and coercion to be triumphant and victorious, Jesus beckons us to follow him into a different kind of politics – into the Kingdom of God that lives and dies by love, service, and forgiveness.
Join us this Thursday evening for our Holy Thursday service at 7 p.m. and Sunday for our Easter services, which include our flower service at 10 a.m. The children will have a great Easter service as well at 10 a.m.
You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Patricia Bessey
P.S. An update on Rev. LeRoy: He is home and other than being weak is doing well…thanks so much for the prayers, cards, calls, text messages, gifts…you were our rock during these long five months. It is his intention to be at the 10:00 a.m. service this Sunday.