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Pave the way for Justice

Posted by chesterlanducc on April 14, 2017 at 9:35 AM

We watched this video for the Time With Children, before the sermon this Palm Sunday:

A parade of brightly colored clowns mixes along those wearing white pointy hoods and silly white sheets.   And the colorful clowns drown out the chants of white power with chants of white flower, white flowers, here’s to wives and mothers.  The clowns can’t hear the hate; they can’t make sense of it.  The true story of clowns who paraded through Knoxville Tennessee amidst a clan march is a story of paving the way with justice—a story of spreading love and laughter.    

The parade of Jesus into Jerusalem at the Passover was one that paved the way with justice.  This was not an ordinary day.  This day someone decided to drown out hate—someone decided to drown out violence—someone decided to drown out oppression, with a grand parade.  A parade of humility, a parade of love, a parade of compassion that even legions of Roman soldiers could not silence—a parade of simple village folks, women, carpenters, and fishermen, inspired by God’s love.  White flower, white flowers, here’s to wives and mothers. 

It was Passover and thousands of Roman soldiers were gathered in Jerusalem to do their worst to intimidate the Jewish people with violence, and Jesus marches in on a donkey, and he paves the way with justice, and we too join the chorus of those who cheered and welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem as we sing this morning, make way, Jesus is coming, pave the way with branches—hope for the down trod is coming, pave the way with branches—land for the landless is coming, pave the way with branches—debts are forgiven, pave the way with branches—release of the captives is coming—pave the way with branches!

One of my mentors who was a retired College Chaplain when I met him was literally a clown—he would clown in worship for his sermon on occasion—full face painted—no inhibition—he seemed fearless.  I believe it was his way of expressing a deep truth that that joy abounds in our faith and in our worship and also that we should not take ourselves too seriously.  The Rev. Tom Nichols was a Chaplain beginning in the late 1950s all the way through the early 1990s.  He was a Chaplain during several civil and environmental rights movements, an ardent pacifist who prayed continuously for peace.  When the Kent State shootings occurred in the 1970s and Hiram College closed for a couple of weeks, instead of taking a vacation Tom took students to Georgia to volunteer with what was later to become Habitat for Humanity. 

Tom was retired from Hiram College when I met him as a student there, but he still lived in town and he accompanied a class of us to Mexico to learn about border issues.  He was in his 70s at that point and I have a picture of one of my friends pushing him around a yard as he sat in a wheel-barrel with his feet and long legs dangling off the sides, out into the air—him laughing and enjoying life.  He was a clown—a clown for justice, a clown for peace—someone who paved the way with branches for others—someone who devoted his life to paving the way for justice.

This lent, we all have the opportunity to be clowns in the parade—to be fearless, to be those who pave the way with branches—to be those who pave the way for justice.    We have the opportunity to shout out and live out the truth that Jesus has shown the way of justice—shown the way of peace—shown the way of healing and wholeness. 

We have an opportunity to help pave the way for justice by proclaiming and living out that the time for equality for gay, lesbian and transgender people must be now; we have an opportunity today to proclaim that equality, and freedom from brutality for our black, middle eastern, Native American and Latino brothers and sisters is something that we all must demand each and every day.  We have the opportunity to pave the way with justice. 

We have the opportunity today to shout out to anyone who will listen that the time has come when women must be paid an equal wage and treated with equal respect—that sexual harassment will no longer be tolerated or ignored or treated as locker room banter—we have an opportunity today and every day to do just as Jesus did, to be filled up with the holy spirit and to pave the way with justice.

Say it with me now please; let us… pave the way with justice.  One more time please… let us pave the way with justice. 

I invite us to remember the story of the clowns who danced and sang and marched along with Clan members in Knoxville Tennessee.  And let us remember their courage, their tenacity, their love—and let us remember those chants of white flower, white flowers, here’s to wives and mothers drowning out hate.  Let us remember the parade that Jesus invites us to, the parade that marks the end of one journey and the beginning of another.  Here’s to the journey—here’s to paving the way with justice. 

Amen and thanks be to God for God’s still speaking voice. 


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