Powell: This year, a silent revolution

Jan 27, 2020 by

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I marvel at the revolutionary and transforming work of ­Jesus. He was passionate, ­direct and God-directed. Religious and secular power brokers considered him a threat because he changed the world by changing individual lives.

John Powell

Powell

Jesus started a nonviolent, silent revolution. It was silent because his followers used his words and actions to transform the “enemy” into friends who worked nonviolently to bring about social and political justice and equality.

Power manipulators push us toward a different kind of revolution. It’s chaotic, divisive, oppressive, regressive and violent. This revolution has encamped at our doorsteps. We are consumed by its impact, and we may not know how to respond.

Gene Sharp, a nonviolence strategist, says power manipulators depend on the support of those they govern. It’s not that the people who support the power brokers don’t understand what’s happening. It’s that most don’t feel the need to be transformed. What’s needed is less about head knowledge and more about heart knowledge.

The current trajectory of hostility needs to change. We need a silent revolution!

This revolution begins when people experience the need to change. As followers of Jesus’ way, we are the experience they need.

This revolution is not for the faint of heart. It requires collective assessment of our spiritual vitality and purpose.

This revolution changes the power dynamics and the mood. We must be a community that calms people’s fears and kindles their hopes. Our demeanor will dictate others’ responses.

We need to embed Jesus’ quiet revolution in the lives of those who unwittingly support unjust power brokers. A successful silent insurgency awakens those upon whom unjust power brokers depend to sustain their authority.

Marian Wright Edelman, an advocate and activist for children and the disadvantaged, has said the biggest dog is made uncomfortable by persistent fleas. We are the fleas whose persistence weakens unjust powers.

During Advent, our congregation explored the freeing aspects of the birth of the Jesus. We emphasized the revolution Jesus brought and still brings — a revolution of song, dance, hope and reconciliation.

We were inspired to believe that the chaos and fear gripping many people today will subside when we engage them with Jesus’ quiet revolution.

After worship, a member said, “This gives me comfort as I enter into the unknown chaos of 2020. Count me out if these things aren’t part of the revolution.”

I think she was speaking for most of us.

Several years ago, I took a photo of a flower pot shattered by years of exposure to the elements. Yet its contents remained solid and unshakeable. When I recently inquired about the pot, I was told its contents continue to thrive, as solid as ever.

The shattered pot reminds me of our engagement in Christ’s silent revolution. Even when hope seems shattered, Jesus holds us together to be instruments of healing. When we refuse to be blindsided by negative forces, we can be a mighty force of reconciliation.

This can be the year of Christ’s silent revolution. You are invited to join!

John Powell, of Ypsilanti, Mich., has worked as a pastor, preacher and teacher in Mennonite churches and institutions.


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