Holy Week & Public Displays of Freedom

Zechariah’s prophecy (9:9-10) announces the righteous and victorious King of Israel will come, not on a war horse like other kings, but on a donkey in humility and peace, bearing witness to a different kind of kingdom.

In the Christian tradition we understand that when Jesus enacts the promise he is performing an unmistakable political act on behalf of a new kind of liberation. It’s why Matthew tells us in his retelling of the event that it has thrown the whole city in turmoil as people were asking, “Who is this?” (21:10-11)

Acting on behalf of a new kind of freedom that threatens the principalities and powers that dictate the terms of freedom, and to do so in such a public way, is a dangerous thing.

We know this to be true.

On the day before Palm Sunday we remembered the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. We remember that the more public his declaration of freedom became, the more of a threat he grew, and the more his enemy pursued him, resulting in his death on a balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.

In remembering Dr. King we remember Medgar Evans. We remember that the more public he made his fight for freedom from Jim Crow in Mississippi, the more his enemy pursued him, resulting in his death in his driveway.

We remember the Freedom Riders of 1961, groups of white and African American activists whose declaration of freedom put on public display in the American South led to horrific violence against them.

Going public with a declaration of a new kind of freedom that threatens the principalities and powers that dictate its terms is a dangerous thing. Dr. King knew it. Medgar Evers knew it. The Freedom Riders knew it.

Jesus knew it. He knew the weight of the liberation he would bring, a liberation like no other, and the weight of suffering and violence he would endure because of it. And he did it anyway. For every one.

I’m thankful he did.

A Palm Sunday Painting by Kai Althoff

About Fred

Fred came to serve greater Williamsburg and WCC as lead pastor in October of 2010 and is grateful to be a part of the family. He is a husband, father, certified trauma professional, S.T.A.R. (strategies for trauma awareness & resilience) practitioner, community organizer, TEDx alum, founder of 3e Restoration, Inc. and co-owner of Philoxenia Culture LLC. He received his B.S. in Ministry/Bible at Amridge University and his Master’s of Religious Education in Missional Leadership from Rochester University. Currently he is a candidate for a Doctorate of Ministry in Contextual Theology in at Northern Seminary in Chicago. Fred has also served as an adjunct professor for Rochester University and Regent University where taught courses in philosophy, ethics, leadership, pastoral care, intro to Christianity, and ethnography. He has also served as a guest lecturer on the subjects of racialized cultural systems, poverty, and missiology at various universities, such as William & Mary and Oklahoma Christian University. Fred has authored on book (Racialized Cultural Systems, Social Displacement and Christian Hospitality) and several curriculum offerings, including The FloorPlan: Living Toward Restoration & Resilience. Fred enjoys hanging out with his family anytime, anywhere. He is deeply grateful for how God graciously works through the Church in all her various forms, despite our brokenness. He is passionate about seeing the last, least, and lonely of every neighborhood, city and nation experience God’s in-breaking kingdom, and come to know Jesus as King. Oh, and his favorite season is Advent and Christmas. Fred is a founding member of the board of directors for Virginia Racial Healing Institute, a member of the leadership team for Williamsburg's local chapter of Coming to the Table, and a member of Greater Williamsburg Trauma-Informed Community Network's Racial Trauma Committee and Training Committee.
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