Easter. Protesting Hope

The Revd. Writes…

The great feast of Easter is the Christian celebration of hope over despair. The crucifixion of Jesus commemorated on Good Friday focuses the cry of protest, from within the very heart of God, that life is stronger than death and that ultimately it is life that will triumph. The very first protest that we make is the cry as a new born, often in response to having our bottom smacked by the midwife. The resulting yell fills the lungs with air and the bloodstream with oxygen. From our very beginnings protest results in giving life – keeping death at bay. As Moses defied the Egyptian authorities and led the Israelites out of slavery into the promised land, so the cry from the cross of, ‘Thy will be done’, ushers in the resurrection and extends a new vision of a new society in which all humankind and the whole of creation have equal share.

Protest is key not only to human flourishing but to our very survival. The child who does not scream, will not be heard, will have no voice, will be at risk of dying quietly in the corner, out of sight, unnoticed. Similarly, the adolescent, in the quest for autonomy, needs to be able to test the truths of convention if an identity is to emerge which will eventually mean that I can say ‘I know who I am. I am me.’ In adulthood the responsibility for protest becomes more onerous, the fight is more for the preservation of integrity and dignity. God has given me my voice and that voice is entitled to be heard. I have an opinion worthy of respect.

The Dever Valley has a rich tradition of protest. The Swing Riots of 1830 brought to the fore the adverse conditions endured by agricultural labourers, not just within in our own villages, but in many parts of the country at that time. The voices of ordinary people bravely articulated the injustices of poverty and demanded that they be heard by the powerful and the influential. If hope was to triumph over despair, then Christian faith demanded action. Conscience would allow for nothing else.

The campaign to oppose the building of a very large waste incinerator within a stones-throw of the banks of the River Dever at Barton Stacey, is the right of Dever Valley people to have a legitimate say in how their communities and environment should be allowed to evolve. Protest is never just about saying a blank ‘no’. It is always about striving for life-giving Easter hope.

God Bless

Mark