Unfortunately, the minister at my parish has been extremely ill, and we are all helping out where we can. Last Sunday was the first time in the five or so years I have been at the Parish that I have preached in the main service. (listen hear https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCDAj80N_IA&t=710s)
With my busy business and a lack of discipline with my spiritual life, I do find preaching helpful as it forces me to spend time contemplating the Bible. What does the Bible say, what is happening in society, what is God calling me to say in this place at this time?
Chatting to friends afterwards, receiving feedback around my sermon, which was more political than usual for our parish, one friend made an interesting comment along the lines of:
“I studied and read history at school and after. I often wondered how the people of Germany let Hitler happen, why didn’t they see it? They are intelligent people. How did they let it happen? I look around and see what is happening in our world currently, and I am getting to understand better how.“
This well enunciated what had been traversing my brain for a while.
Around the globe, we have numerous religious political leaders at the moment. Morrison in my own Australia, Trump in the USA, Bolsonaroin Brazil. All are professing faith as leaders, yet seem to operate in the exact opposite direction of the man they claim to follow.
- These type of men appear to not have the interests of their indigenous people at heart.
- These type of men don’t appear to be interested in providing for the sick.
- These type of men don’t appear to want to help or care for the refugees.
- These type of men appear to be more interested in putting people in prison rather than helping those in prison.
- These type of men appear to be more interested in the rights of the corporate over the environment.
- These type of men appear to be more interested in the well being of business rather than the workers who labour within these business.
- These type of men seem to be more interested in power than in service.
- These type of men seem to be more interested secrecy than openness and transparency.
- These type of men seem to be more interested in oppressing minorities than allowing them to flourish as valuable additions to society.
- These type of men seem to think that sexual orientation is binary and will oppress, erase and harm people rather than recognise the inordinate contribution that being different provides society.
These type of men represent the political elite, power and control.
Then we have the religious communities, what some might call the evangelicals. Unfortunately, those who follow Jesus are called to spread his word, but the “white evangelicals” have destroyed that concept for me and many others.
- We have religious leaders who are fighting against the protection of children.
- We have religious leaders who are fighting to ensure women are reduced to second class citizens.
- We have religious leaders who are fighting to ensure they can exclude people on their own grounds.
- We have religious leaders who are fighting to ensure that they have extraordinary power and privilege that no other citizens can have.
- We have religious leaders who are fighting for the right to abuse youth and adults of different sexual orientations, in a process that often lead to suicide or at best severe mental health issues.
- We have religious leaders who are fighting for the right for health practitioners not to help people based on their own religious views, which will negatively affect the health of women, disabled people, LGBTIQ people, people of different races and faiths.
We have religious leaders who are seeking power to control rather than the free people.
We are now being faced with a number of countries where the political and religious elite are working for their own power, and not for the betterment of all humankind.
Jesus, the person they all say they follow, called for inclusion, healing, for the sick, support for those in prison, acknowledgement and engagement with people of different faiths and ethnicities, bringing in the outcast (often the outcasts are caused by the political and or religious elite), caring for our world and so much more.
The canary in the coal mine is very ill.
Each country that is heading down the pathway of political and religious elitism, exclusion, power and control, needs a new prophetic voice.
In some way, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was the canary of an earlier period. His voice wasn’t listen to and the results were devastating.
Can we wait any longer to find the 21st century Bonhoeffer prophetic voices to rise, to ensure we have civil society tomorrow, next week, next year?