One terrifying tragedy about the situation in Zimbabwe is the complicit silence of South Africa. In contrast to this, the Palm-Sunday-weeping-and-shouting-and-cleansing Jesus challenges us to speak out for the sake of our neighbor, Zimbabwe.
On Palm Sunday we remember Jesus’ journey into Jerusalem … and how he wept. He wept over the city of Jerusalem that was now blind to the things that make for peace. On Palm Sunday we remember Jesus’ cleansing protest in the temple … and how he shouted. He shouted at those who had turned the all-welcoming presence of God into a place of exclusion and exploitation. On Palm Sunday we witness Jesus challenge the two “sacred cows” of his day: the holy city and the holy temple.
On Palm Sunday we learn that once-hopeful places can turn into desperate places of despair. We learn that institutions meant for generous welcome can turn into greedy places of corruption. We learn that holy places can turn horrible! On Palm Sunday we learn that when the powers FALL they need to be wept over, shouted at, and cleansed.
Zimbabwe, once a sign of God’s liberating grace, needs to be wept over, shouted at, and cleansed!
Yet what is of great concern is that those who should be leading us in our grief and protest remain almost silent – namely those who govern South Africa. Strange, for they were the courageous ones who called the world to weep and shout and cleanse us of our apartheid past. Have their eyes forgotten how to cry? Does freedom really make one forget so soon?
Yet what is even further worrying is that we, the people of this land, find it so difficult to weep and wail over our silent leaders. Even the church struggles to find its prophetic voice. Is it because many of our leaders carry such impeccable “struggle” credentials – through whom God’s liberating grace once touched us all – that we are either intimidated or overly (idolatrously) respectful of them? Have they become for us like the Holy City and Holy Temple – to be forever revered?
Oh Jesus, give us all strength to challenge the sacred cows of our day. Come and heal the once holy, now horrible.
Alan Storey is an ordained minister of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa and senior minister of Calvary Methodist Church, Midrand, situated halfway between Pretoria and Johannesburg.