Nazareth to Ottawa: Election Eve Reflections

Good news to the poor.
Release to captives.
Recovery of sight to the blind.
Let the oppressed go free.
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.

There you have it.

The campaign platform of the Kingdom.
It was all there in the Nazareth Manifesto.
This was Jesus’ agenda.
The was what his campaign was all about.

And here we are.

The day before a national election,
and we have some decisions to make.

Good news for the poor?

The poor have been absent in this election.
Good news for the poor,
tends to be bad news for the rich.
So the parties go to where the most votes are.
Not the poor, but the ‘middle class.’

That’s all we’ve heard about since August 2.
Making life more comfortable for the middle class.
And the poor remain where we want them,
silent and invisible.

Release to captives?

How about those captive to violence in Syria?
How about immigration detainees in our prisons?
How about those languishing in refugee camps,
waiting for the Prime Minister’s office to vet their applications?

How about prison reform?
Where was that on the campaign trail?

Release to captives?
Not from the fake ‘tough on crime’ agenda of this government!

Recovery of sight to the blind?

Well for that to happen we’d have to acknowledge our blindness.
Sure there is the blatant ideological blindness of the Conservatives,
but isn’t the commitment to an ever growing economy
in the midst of a finite and fragile world,
a blindness that seems to be shared across the political spectrum?

If we were concerned with opening our eyes,
with removing our ideological blinders and facing ecological reality,
don’t you think that climate change
would have been more front and centre in this election?

If we weren’t so blindly committed to an extractive economy,
don’t you think that closing down the tar sands
might have been the courageous proposal of some party?

To let the oppressed go free?

Tell that to our First Nations sisters and brothers.
Tell that to Muslim sisters and brothers,
subject to hate speech from the racist right wing.
Tell that to our shrinking polar icecap.
Tell that to our homeless friends on the streets of Toronto.
Tell that to the thousands waiting for affordable housing.

And the year of the Lord’s favour?

The year of Jubiliee?
The year of an economics of generosity?
The year of redistribution in a world of obscene disparity?
The year of justice and restoration?

Not this year, friends, not this year.
Not this election, friends, not this election.

So I come into this election day saddened, angered and frustrated.
While I have great hope for an incredibly fine candidate in my own riding,
and while I know that there are such people across this country,
and while I have a suspicion that on at least some levels
the electorate is tired of the same old, same old of arrogance and corruption,
I know that in this election, like all elections before,
my hope will rest in Nazareth, not Ottawa.

My hope will rest on a radical Kingdom of justice
not the political machinations of our own time.

My hope will rest on a teacher who speaks with a unique authority,
rooted in covenant, truth and healing.

In Luke’s gospel, the Manifesto in synagogue Nazareth (4.19-20)
gets embodied in the alleys of Capernaum,
amongst those who are most alienated and marginalized,
|the insane and demon possessed,
at the bedside of the sick and dying.

Jesus wasn’t running for Prime Minister.
He was inaugurating his Kingdom.
A Kingdom in which the poor really do hear good news,
the captives are released
the blind see,
the oppressed are set free,
and it is no longer the same old same old,
because the spirit of Jubilee takes hold of the people.

Is this Scripture fulfilled in our hearing?
That depends on what the body of Christ does with it.


Brian Walsh
Brian is an activist theologian, a retired CRC campus minister, the founder of the Wine Before Breakfast community, and farms with Sylvia Keesmaat at Russet House Farm.He engages issues of theology and culture, and has written a couple of books you might want to check out. His most recent offering is cowritten with Sylvia Keesmaat and entitled Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire, Demanding Justice.

One Response to “Nazareth to Ottawa: Election Eve Reflections”

  1. andrew

    Brian – This really is a fine piece, calling us back to focus. And I think why that’s most important is that whoever wins tomorrow will be a far cry from inaugurating the Kingdom Jesus believed in, described, and ultimately embodied.

    As I was on a hike in the woods this afternoon with a dear friend discussing the election, this same thought came to me – that the body of Christ has some serious work to do in embodying the Nazareth Manifesto and to participate in just such a kingdom.


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