Sunday, April 1, 2007

A Sunday of Palms

Luke 19:28-40 Who's sustaining whom? What does Jesus choose to sustain him into his final week? The cheering of the crowds waving palms? No! He chooses a measley donkey. What good is a donkey? What president, in their good mind, flaunts their great power by driving around in a pinto rather than a limo? The donkey is the key animal that carries Messiah's to their destination communicating their humble leadership. The donkey points beyond itself of course to the one it supports...the one whose very life speaks about being sustained by such humble means.

What does it look like for a community of faith to be sustained through humble resources? What changes would begin to take place in the life of church if the privileged infrastructure were more identified with servant, rather than corporate or capitalist, leadership? My guess is that a lot would change and with that change, frankly, a lot of people would be pissed off, kicked off their high horse. The ways in which pastors pastor would change. The ways in which people in communities of faith engaged as church would change. How resources were chosen to be used and distributed would change. The hierarchies of institutional church would change.

So what change is it that precisely occurs? I suppose there are numerous others more articulate than myself who could provide some semblance of an adequate answer to this question. But where I am tonight, I wonder if this occurrence speaks of a new kind of economics, a kingdom of God economics. Now I realize we can't subscribe to a high and lofty ideal since we remain in the world and value those things in the world as created and used by God. We do celebrate the fact that 'earthly elements' play a significant role in God's salvation efforts, for after all, even a donkey is chosen, in some way, sacramentally. In the end perhaps, sustainability comes by realizing that our integral role, the waving of our palms, our fleeting and enthusiastic efforts, our misguided motivations, are deeply and profoundly replaced by another who's palms are waved, not for his own sake, but for the sake of those who suffer.


tamie said...

i just bestowed upon you the thinking blogger award. come to my blog and get it!

robert said...

i was thinking about sustainability today and used google. I have to say, the internets (a series of tubes, according to Senator Ted Stevens, R AK) are truly amazing.

i read today about the Chinese River Dolphin, which, as of April, 2006, is considered fucntionally extinct. It saddens me that in the world as it is now, with all of our knowledge about conservation and protection of animal species, we cannot prevent the extinction of wonderful creatures, like the river dolphin.

there, also, is a really cool rabbit, which lives in Laos and Sumatra that is, get this, striped! a striped rabbit! Just in time for Easter! Neat little bunnies (or maybe they're mean, like every other rabbit i've ever known). but, they're also endangered, because of the encroachment of human settlements.

Please understand, i value human life more than i value animal life, BUT, i do happen to greatly value animal life. they're fascinating. when an animal species becomes extinct because of humans, because of poaching, encroachment, or other unnecessary human impact on the environment, the fault becomes magnified and borders on sin.

the buzz words here at ASU recently have been sustainability and all that other eco-jargon - Al Gore was here Monday to give his talk. As i think about sustainability, i wonder if it is in human nature to work towards that? sustainability is the opposite of greed. sustainable communities require that individuals value the community at least as much as they value themselves.

often, when i hear the new buzz words of sustainability, etc., i'm skeptical, precisely because these ideas are directly contradictory to current consumer culture (for example, bigger and faster - like in a, ahem, SUV or more paritularly, Hummer - means more environmental impact, not less). there is a shift in the global culture, though, which is heartening. there is evidence that more people are becoming more aware of the impact that each person has on the world around him. The EU seems to have gotten that. Here in the US, we seem to be working on getting that.

but these buzz words can't refer to just the environment. sustainability, etc., must also deal with the nebulous world of human interaction and relationship. what good is an environmentally sustainable environment if all of the embittered retail employees are still embittered, if all of the desperate housewives are still desperate, if all of the self-righteous preachers are still self-righteous? what good is the Garden of Eden if we still value things that really don't matter, like the best birthday party on the block for our 6 year old son, complete with designer cake, pony rides and $30 party favors?

so with sustainability must come a shift in global values that extend in as well as out. our souls must change to lend credence to the changes we make in our impact.

dave said...

well said bob. the genesis creation story sets up the importance of sustaining communities and our role in the whole thing. i love the way you frame things as one who has a mastery of biology. you continue to provide helpful perspectives for me and i wish we were closer and could talk more frequently. peace.

dave said...

ps - i wonder if there are any pics of the striped bunnies.

isipwater said...

Hey Bob,

I love your post, especially the part about how sustainability seems incompatible in our materialistic nation. It seems that sustainable change can only be possible if there are economic incentives.

Changing topics; has anyone heard of the following two emerging church books:
1) A Shaping of Things to Come
2) The Celtic Way of Evangelism

A friend of mine told me about the books and suggested I read them (not that I have time right now). I am skeptical about if these books are superficial emerging, or deep emerging. Anyone know?