May 28, 2024

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Amid a global pandemic, the Christian story of Easter shows us the power of hope

Photograph: Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

In the spring of 1963, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was engaged in a campaign to defeat Jim Crow laws in Birmingham, Alabama.

As they approached the Easter weekend that year, no victory was in sight. But Dr Martin Luther King Jr knew there was something in the logic of Easter that suggested the way to victory might be counterintuitive. He decided to go to jail on Good Friday and stay there through the Easter weekend. He would not be free to preach a sermon on the holiest day of the Christian year, but he would pen his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail as he waited to see a way forward.

In the midst of this world’s deepest darkness, the Christian story of the resurrection points towards the power of hope. As we weather a global pandemic, Easter offers a moment for us to reflect on the role of suffering and the possibility of radical solidarity.

Over the past month we have entered a new reality where despair is ever-present and fear pervasive. The death toll keeps rising, and instead of honest leadership we have a president who uses press conferences as political rallies. Trump might remind us of Pontius Pilate, who came from a well-known family and oversaw a tense, violent relationship with the Jewish minority of Jesus’ day. America today is not unlike the Roman Empire in which Christ was crucified as an insubordinate revolutionary.

Suffering is not anathema to Christians. In the Christian story, Jesus – the son of the creator of the universe – willingly undergoes a painful, bloody, public death. It is the last sacrifice, so that others do not need to continue the bloodletting. This is an astounding idea, a reversal of all our dominant values, our hunger for immortality, for power, for pleasure above all else. The crucifixion is the story of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice and solidarity with the world.

But the story does not end with death. It ends with resurrection, an unbelievable miracle, and with the Holy Spirit persisting in a global community.

Can we come together as a global community today? As we take hope in the Easter story, we must also take the lessons of Christ’s life, which was spent in radical communion with the poor and sick.

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has taken up the campaign begun by Martin Luther King Jr and others in 1968, which was itself a revival of the early church’s commitment to the least of these. We stand for the 140 million poor and low-income people who were left out of Congress’s Covid-19 relief package: the 60 million workers who do not have paid sick leave, the 25 million with no health insurance, the 72 million who already have medical debt, the 8 million to 11 million people who are homeless, the 11 million undocumented immigrants who will receive no support. Often, in the midst of America’s obsession with the middle class, we forget those who have nothing. But Christ did not forget them.

starvation.” data-reactid=”25″>And, as we seek solutions to this virus at home, we must remember its global reach. India’s 1.3 billion people are all in a 21-day lockdown. In Africa, the difficulty of social distancing in dense areas, paired with underlying conditions caused by malnutrition, could portend a devastating toll. As developing countries become harder hit, people are faced with the choice of infection or starvation.

tens of billions in debt payments in 2020. The International Monetary Fund, aid organizations and world leaders are calling on creditors to suspend these payments. But there is much more that could be done. Many of the same leaders, including the IMF leadership and Nobel laureate economists, have called for the IMF to help countries through this crisis by providing, as it did in 2009, large amounts of debt-free special drawing rights. We could end the illegal sanctions on countries like Iran and Venezuela, which target civilians and have caused tens of thousands of deaths. Or we could make a commitment to ensuring that when a vaccine is found, it will be available to all.” data-reactid=”26″>Meanwhile, there is little interest in the United States for increasing aid abroad. On the contrary, industrial nations expect to bring in tens of billions in debt payments in 2020. The International Monetary Fund, aid organizations and world leaders are calling on creditors to suspend these payments. But there is much more that could be done. Many of the same leaders, including the IMF leadership and Nobel laureate economists, have called for the IMF to help countries through this crisis by providing, as it did in 2009, large amounts of debt-free special drawing rights. We could end the illegal sanctions on countries like Iran and Venezuela, which target civilians and have caused tens of thousands of deaths. Or we could make a commitment to ensuring that when a vaccine is found, it will be available to all.

American leaders have not taken any of these actions – and we should not be surprised. This is the way of a civilization that has lost touch with its own humanity. It is the sign of a civilization that cannot last. But Christ’s life and death reminds us that we must continue the struggle. The resurrection reminded Christ’s followers that the death of the body is not the ultimate evil. On the contrary, it is the death of the soul, the death of our ability to see clearly what is right, which is far more devastating.

Christ’s life was an indictment of the Roman Empire and ultimately he was executed for his revolutionary protests. Pontius Pilate washed his hands before ordering the crucifixion, much like western governments might wash their hands today as they turn away from the suffering they could have avoided.

This Easter, the resurrection offers an indictment of empires and leaders that have become cruel in their hunger for power. But it also offers us a path forward. Though empires rise and fall, our ability to love and care for one another persists. When we press on in solidarity with those who are suffering, even when a way forward is not clear, we prepare ourselves to receive the good news of this season.

  • William J Barber II is president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign
  • Dr Leah Hunt-Hendrix is a writer and co-founder of Way to Win

Original News : https://news.yahoo.com/amid-global-pandemic-christian-story-174036052.html