Disrupting Empire – service text

PDF: HT bulletin Mar 29 Palm Sunday 4

While empire in Jesus’ time consisted of distinct forms of oppression including military occupation, violence, unjust taxation, and slavery, … we have to look deeper and wider to put a recognizable face on empire. … As stated in To Seek Justice and Resist Evil, contemporary “empire is not dominated by any single state but by a network of powerful economic interests held together by the ideology of neoliberalism,” and furthermore, is a system in which most of us play some role, wittingly or unwittingly.
Living Faithfully in the Midst of Empire, United Church of Canada, 2006

Territorial Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that we gather upon the traditional territories of the Mississauga Anishaabeg, Haudenosaunee and Wendat Indigenous Peoples, the original nations of this land, who continue to cry out for justice.

prelude – Entry of the Kings

Opening – Prepare ye the way of the lord

Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was not a simple act of obedience to God, following some preordained path to destruction and ancient prophesy. It was a radical challenge to an Empire that could not be physically resisted. It was a powerful act of political theatre and call to revolutionary change that still reverberates today. Unfortunately, empire continues to dominate our lives.
Let us prepare ourselves to join Christ’s parade into Jerusalem by first asking each other for forgiveness.

Confession and absolution

For the absolution of our sins and offences, for forgiveness of our abuse of privilege, for relief from fear which causes us to lash out, let us pray to God and to each other.
Silence
God in your mercy.
Hear our Prayer.
We are a forgiven people: God’s spirit is free among us.

Peace

The peace of Christ the Liberator be always with you and free you.
And also with you.

Blessing of the Palms (and ribbons, banners and placards)

If you have brought a sign, banner or other item to parade with and would like it blessed, please bring it up to join those already arrayed before the altar.
We give praise and thanks for the life and example of Christ. He challenged authority and showed radical concern for the people and land. By these courageous acts of love, Christ bore witness to to our hopes for a realm of justice and peace. We bless these palm branches, ribbons, banners and signs that we who carry them will go forth with courage to bear full witness to your gospel of peace and justice. Amen.

Palm Sunday Address

During Lent we have readied ourselves for the celebration of Easter. Today we begin the walk of Holy Week with Jesus as he enters the holy city of Jerusalem in victory.
We strive to walk with him today as his very presence challenges the Imperial powers. He co-opted the the forms of the Roman Triumphal March and parodied them in a radical piece of political theatre. He led his people in offering the only resistance they could in the face of an overpowering empire.
We shout loud hosannas and then follow Jesus from the glory of this day to the celebration of his rising again on Easter Day knowing that pain and death will likely come.
But we are not alone on this journey. The saints who have courageously lived and worked for justice in the company of Jesus Christ the Liberator are also present in our procession today.

Procession

We will march around the nave twice with palm branches, placards, ribbons, HT marching banners, pride flag and singing.

Freedom is a Constant Struggle

They say that freedom is a constant struggle
They say that freedom is a constant struggle
They say that freedom is a constant struggle
Oh Lord, we’ve struggled so long
We must be free, we must be free

They say that freedom is a constant seeking …

They say that freedom is a constant calling …

They say that freedom is a constant marching …

They say that freedom is a constant struggle …

Never Turning Back

We’re gonna keep on walking forward
Keep on walking forward(x2)
Never turning back (x2)
Gonna keep on walking proudly…
Gonna keep on singing loudly…
Gonna keep on loving boldly…
Gonna work for change together…
Gonna show our children courage…
Gonna keep on moving forward…
Children leave for own program

Collect

Many in Israel looked to Jesus as the prophesied messiah
who would liberate them from the occupier through force.
What they did not know
was that he came to liberate all people from Empire,
preaching the good news of peace and justice
through his words and acts of solidarity.
Through our words and actions,
let us show our commitment
to build Christ’s commonwealth
of peace and freedom here among us.

First Reading

“…the fact that certain members of the oppressor class join the oppressed in their struggle for liberation, thus moving from one pole of the contradiction to the other… Theirs is a fundamental role, and has been throughout the history of this struggle. It happens, however, that as they cease to be exploiters or indifferent spectators or simply the heirs of exploitation and move to the side of the exploited, they almost always bring with them the marks of their origin: their prejudices and their deformations, which include a lack of confidence in the people’s ability to think, to want, and to know. Accordingly, these adherents to the people’s cause constantly run the risk of falling into a type of generosity as malefic as that of the oppressors. The generosity of the oppressors is nourished by an unjust order, which must be maintained in order to justify that generosity. Our converts, on the other hand, truly desire to transform the unjust order; but because of their background they believe that they must be the executors of the transformation. They talk about the people, but they do not trust them; and trusting the people is the indispensable precondition for revolutionary change. A real humanist can be identified more by his trust in the people, which engages him in their struggle, than by a thousand actions in their favour without that trust.”

“[T]he more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled. This person is not afraid to meet the people or to enter into a dialogue with them. This person does not consider himself or herself the proprietor of history or of all people, or the liberator of the oppressed; but he or she does commit himself or herself, within history, to fight at their side.”
― Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Hear what the spirit says to all people
Thanks be to god.

Song – Canticle of the Turning

1. My soul cries out with a joyful shout
that the God of my heart is great,
And my spirit sings of the wondrous things
that you bring to the ones who wait.
You fixed your sight on your servant’s plight,
and my weakness you did not spurn,
So from east to west shall my name be blest.
Could the world be about to turn?

Refrain
My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,
and the world is about to turn!

2. Though I am small, my God, my all,
you work great things in me,
And your mercy will last from the depths of the past
to the end of the age to be.
Your very name puts the proud to shame,
and to those who would for you yearn,
You will show your might, put the strong to flight,
for the world is about to turn.

3. From the halls of power to the fortress tower,
not a stone will be left on stone.
Let the king beware for your justice tears
ev’ry tyrant from his throne.
The hungry poor shall weep no more,
for the food they can never earn;
There are tables spread, ev’ry mouth be fed,
for the world is about to turn.

4. Though the nations rage from age to age,
we remember who holds us fast:
God’s mercy must deliver us
from the conqueror’s crushing grasp.
This saving word that our forebears heard
is the promise which holds us bound,
‘Til the spear and rod can be crushed by God,
who is turning the world around.

Second Reading – Zechariah 9:9-10

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the warhorses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
Hear what the spirit says to all people
Thanks be to god.

Song – Unto Jerusalem – (Elliot Rose)

(to the tune of blow away the morning dew)

How glad I was to hear the news we’re free of Pharaoh’s hand;
It’s pack on back and take the road unto the Promised Land;
And it’s come friends, away with me. Away and away O
Come friends away with me unto Jerusalem!

We have no guide who knows the ground, but signs by night and day;
The fire knows where we are bound, the cloud can show the way.
And it’s come friends, away with me. Away and away O
Come friends away with me unto Jerusalem!

We heard the wind blow all the night upon the waters wide;
As they stood high to left and right, we made the other side,
And it’s sisters, away with me. Away and away O
Come friends away with me unto Jerusalem!

Now all the land is waste and wild that we must journey through;
But bread for woman, man and child falls with the mroning dew,
And it’s brothers, away with me. Away and away O
Come friends away with me unto Jerusalem!

Proud is the town of Jericho and circled with a wall;
Now harken how the trumpets blow and down the towers fall;
And it’s children, away with me. Away and away O
Come friends away with me unto Jerusalem!

And when we come to Zion’s hall and build our temple there;
We’ll have to work to guard it still for many a thousand year,
But it’s come friends, away with me. Away and away O
Come friends away with me unto Jerusalem!

Gospel – Mark 11:1-11

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it.
If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.'”
They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it,
some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields.
Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Homily – Disrupting Empire – Keith Nunn

Offertory – Jesus Christ is Dancing VU #117

Announcements & prayer after announcements

Send word to Children’s program

Prayers of the People

Let us remember on this day when we celebrate Christ’s entry into Jerusalem others of your saints who led their people on marches of resistance.
Let us remember the Anishinawbe women who walked around all of the Great Lakes in witness to the many crimes of pollution being committed against them and Lori Nicotin and the many others who walked in witness to the destruction the Tar sands have brought to the water and land they depend upon.
Yes, yes, we will remember them.

Let us remember John Peters Humphrey, the quietly disruptive Canadian law professor who while the blood was still flowing in the final days of the second world war dared to dream of a world in which there was fundamental respect for the dignity of all and had the dedication to help build the modern international human rights system, starting with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Yes, yes, we will remember them.

Let us remember the many women and men of the Bread and Roses strike who stood firm for months in the face of economic empire and won. Let us remember the women and men of CUPE 3902 who are on strike today against the University of Toronto, a struggle not just for fair compensation but justice in an increasingly unjust post-secondary education system.
Yes, yes, we will remember them.

Let us remember the On-to-Ottawa Trek of 1935. This was powerful show of resistance to a federal government that cared so little about jobless people that it dispatched mounted police instead of even allowing them the simple justice of a fair hearing. Let us remember Nick Shaack, killed in a police attack on the hundreds of jobless men gathered in Regina on July 2, 1935.
Yes, yes, we will remember them.

Let us remember Canada’s Famous Five – Emily Murphy, Irene Marryat Parlby, Nellie Mooney McClung, Louise Crummy McKinney and Henrietta Muir Edwards – who started with a shared pot of tea and ended up in front of the Judicial Committee of the Imperial Privy Council where they won a famous victory against a repressive government and a repressive Supreme Court of Canada and struck a powerful blow for women’s equality.
Yes, yes, we will remember them.

Let us remember David Kawapit Jr., the young Cree man who walked 1500km from his home in Northern Quebec and the hundreds who joined him on his way to Ottawa to protest the living conditions in his community. Conditions created and maintained by our ongoing colonial attitudes.
Yes, yes, we will remember them.

Eucharistic prayer #3

Replace the second paragraph (“In fulfilment of your will…”) with the following:

In the days before he was captured and murdered, Christ bore witness to your love as he entered Jerusalem in the company of his friends and all who put their hope in you. His presence bore witness to the resistance he offered to the powers of empire, the powers of privilege and tyranny. By showing your love and solidarity with the people of Israel, even in the face of imprisonment and death, Christ scattered the chains of evil and despair.

Communion song(s) – Walking and Wheeling, Gentle Angry People

Sending Hymn – Turn the World Around (Harry Belafonte)

Oh, oh so is life
Ah, ha so is life
Oh, oh so is life
Ah, ha so is life

We come from the fire, living in the fire
Go back to the fire, turn the world around
We come from the fire, living in the fire
Go back to the fire, turn the world around
We come from the fire, living in the fire
Go back to the fire, turn the world around

We come from the water, living in the water…

We come from the mountain, living on the mountain…

Oh, oh so is life
Ah, ha so is life
Oh, oh so is life
Ah, ha so is life

Water make the river, river wash the mountain

Fire make the sunlight, turn the world around

Heart is of the river, body is the mountain
Spirit is the sunlight, turn the world around

We are of the spirit, truly of the spirit
Only can the spirit turn the world around

Oh, oh so is life
Ah, ha so is life
Oh, oh so is life
Ah, ha so is life