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seeking: Where are you headed?

Power Play

by Lisle Gwynn Garrity

Inspired by Matthew 21:1-11
Silk painting with digital drawing and collage

In their book, The Last Week, theologians Marcus Borg and John
Crossman assert that there were actually two parades occurring
simultaneously in Jerusalem on this day. From the east, Jesus entered
on a donkey. From the west, the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate,
entered with an imperial guard. They write: “Jesus’ procession
proclaimed the kingdom of God; Pilate’s proclaimed the power of
empire. The two processions embody the central conflict of the week
that led to Jesus’ crucifixion.”9
This image is a meditation on these opposing processions and the
embodiment of power. Pilate processes with a pompous display of armor, accompanied by soldiers. For him,
power is displayed by superiority, elitism, and weaponry. Later in the week, he will use his power to satisfy the
crowds willing Jesus to be crucified, despite not finding any offense to justify it (read John 18 & 19). He uses his
power for violence, to appease the status quo.
Jesus enters the city on a donkey with her young colt in tow. He wears no armor, only soft linens. In this image, I
imagine if the composition were expanded, Jesus would be kneeling, humbling himself before his disciples as he
washes their feet. In Jesus’ processional, members of the crowd lay down their coats as a display of humility and
honor. This foreshadows the way Jesus will take off his outer robe and tie a towel around his waist to wash his
friends’ feet. Jesus embodies power through a posture of vulnerability, through caring for those who desperately
need love.
Which parade you would join in Jerusalem has a lot to say about your definition of power. If you are quick to place
yourself in Jesus’ parade, I encourage you to pause and consider these questions honestly: When have you aligned
yourself with systems or people who have used their power for violence or to uphold the status quo? When have
you embodied power through vulnerability and love for your neighbor?
—Rev. Lisle Gwynn Garrity

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