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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Blogging towards Easter 3 - being a Christian in private?

In Chapter 3  Wells hits home with a challenge to people who are comfortably well off and are at ease in the middle of empire - like me.

Is it possible to be a Christian privately, a rule by day and a worshipper by night?

This chapter explores the motives and behaviour of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus as set out in the gospels, charactesr of whom the writers have varying estimates. Both of these characters fall between the power of Pilate and the passion of Barabbas. They are drawn by the figure of this Galilean rabbi and live in his shadow but are afraid to throw in their lot in publicly with him in the political contest of the time. They are paralyzed, complicit in the judicial process that Pilate manipulates to implicate the Jewish establishment in his execution as a troublemaker,

Only after his death do they appear again by night and perform a service of burial at a point where his other public disciples have disappeared.  What kind of discipleship is this?

For them faith in Christ is not a matter of transformed identity - baptism - but is an attribute they can pick up or put down as they choose. As political figures they are largely invisible, since when the key debates take place they are present but - at best - silent. As religious figures they are visible at the very moment the disciples have disappeared - the moment of Jesus' burial. They are celebrated religious figures but they expose the politics of those who could have been political but chose to be narrowly religious. It is a politics that shows reverence to Jesus' body. But on closer inspection it is a politics that puts Jesus to death.  (p.106)
Indeed - this is a reading of scripture that goes close to home.

Today people I know have entered a top secret military base as a protest against the ongoing war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bonhoeffer 4

At 6am this morning, four Christian peace activists entered Swan Island, one of Australia’s most secret military installations near Queenscliff, Victoria, seeking to disrupt the war in Afghanistan.  
“Both Swan Island and the war on Afghanistan are out of sight, out of mind. It’s time to end further suffering of the Afghan people and our soldiers by bringing our troops home,” the group said.
Swan Island is a highly secretive military installation used by the Army’s elite Special Air Service (SAS) and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS). Swan Island is said to be more secretive than Pine Gap in central Australia.

“In the week before the first Easter, Jesus blockaded the temple and turned the tables inside.   Today we are imitating Jesus’ disruption”,  the group said. “Sometimes you have to get in the way of injustice”. 
“War can’t bring peace, it can only bring further terror, death and poverty,” the group said.

Rev. Simon Moyle (Baptist Minister), Jacob Bolton (Community Worker), Jessica Morrison (University Lecturer) and Simon Reeves (Social Worker) have called themselves the Bonhoeffer Peace Collective after Kevin Rudd’s favourite theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was also an antiwar activist.
“The followers of Christ have been called to peace. And they must not only have peace but also make it. His disciples keep the peace by choosing to endure suffering themselves rather than inflict it on others. In so doing they overcome evil with good, and establish the peace of God in the midst of a world of war and hate.”— Dietrich Bonhoeffer

follow updates from the Bonhoeffer Peace Collective as it happens here:

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