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Two Marches

Over the years, I have marched in the Denver, Colorado Four Directions All Nation March where the marchers step off from four directions and rally at the Colorado State Capitol.  One might ask why do Indigenous people march in Canada and America? 

First, regarding participating in a protest march, I want to encourage non-violent political movements, like those associated with leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi.

Typically Indigenous protest march events included speeches, prayers, songs, and drumming. The goal of marching is to raise public awareness of issues that affect Indigenous people worldwide, such as missing and murdered Indigenous women, in Canada and the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, homicide is the third-leading cause of death among native women between 10 and 24 years of age. Additionally one might march because of climate change, families divided by walls and borders, police brutality against Indigenous people, and the need to protect Indigenous lands. 

Marching reminds me of a narrative about Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  

Most likely there were two processions that day. 

Let’s look for a moment on the context of this story. Passover week was a big event in Jerusalem. Many Jews gathered to share in this pilgrimage festival to celebrate the feast of liberation together. Most likely there were two processions that week. 

Pontius Pilate would have entered from the west gate – the front gate on a big white horse with his soldiers parading before and after him with symbols of imperial power, chariots, gleaming armor and golden eagles mounted on poles. Pilate moved in with the Roman army at the beginning of Passover week to make sure everything was on the up and up. Rebellion was in the air as Passover was being celebrated, and the memory of God’s deliverance of the Hebrew people from bondage in Egypt was in people’s minds.

Jesus had planned a symbolic prophetic act, an upside down echo of Pilate’s entry into Jerusalem.

Then from the east gate – the back gate, came another procession, a desert tribal man’s procession—Jesus in an ordinary robe riding on a young colt. The careful preparations suggest that Jesus had planned a symbolic prophetic act, an upside down echo of Pilate’s entry into Jerusalem. Jesus revealed in this act the coming of a new kind of king, a king of peace who has divine power to demolish strongholds, the Lamb of God who shows power through reaching out and touching those who are broken.  A ruler for those who need healing and calling for reconciliation, justice and love. 

Was the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday much more a protest than a procession? It was a statement that the ways of the Roman Empire or corrupt governments were not the way of peace. The procession on Palm Sunday was both protest of injustice and an example of the differences between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of God.

The shout in the streets, the desperate appeal to the Divine Love.

“God save us!” was the shout in the streets, the desperate appeal to the Divine Love, Jesus entering the city and going to the heart of where the people were. They took palm branches and waved them, they engaged in this ritual of protest, this proclamation of there being another way or marching to a different drummer.

Perhaps protest marching is not about imperial power versus the inhabitants of the land, but a struggle, a battle of life, a reminder to see the spiritual realities in marching.  To be aware of spirits of greed versus charity and spirits of pride versus humility. Marching reminds us of our own iniquity and inspires the good virtues of sharing and humbleness.  

What separates you from the immediate love of God and the reciprocal love of other people?

As sojourners we move into our own processions, we’re called to ponder, What separates you from the immediate love of God and the reciprocal love of other people? What do I need to let go of, change, and engage to march forward in the walk of an authentic love?  How does my march look more like Jesus and less like Pilate’s? . We’re going to go on this journey together of a sacramental protest, of a sacred passage.

Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

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