December 12, 2021 – Prince Alfred Park, Sydney
You’ll, forgive me for bringing with me the symbol of the cross today I don’t mean to hijack the icon of the church, but the truth is that the church stole this icon from the Roman Empire many centuries ago. Long before this was a symbol of faith, it was a symbol of death.
You’ll remember that the cross was something you got killed with. It was like a noose or a guillotine, except it was something designed to kill people slowly and painfully and publicly.
Jesus was not the only person to be crucified by the Romans. In fact, if you go back a generation before Christ, after the revolt of Spartacus, the survivors of that slave revolution – six thousand of them – were crucified, and their crosses lined the Via Appia in and out of Rome for 100 kilometres.
You couldn’t leave your home. You couldn’t take your children out for a walk. You couldn’t go shopping without seeing the gruesome reminder everywhere of this symbol, which reminded you that the empire was powerful and that you were nothing, that they had the power of life and death over you and you better do what they say, or you will end up here.
Centuries go by and empires come and go, but systems of power and control continue to be re resurrected. None of us have been crucified, as far as i know. Maybe the worst that’s happened to you is you’ve been embarrassed because you can’t go to the pub with your mates or to the movies or to the coffee shop, or maybe you’ve lost your job, or maybe your business has gone bust and you’ve lost your home. It’s a different shovel. It’s the same crap.
What is great is that the church took this symbol of death and turned it into a symbol of hope, because they believed that there are some people who will just not stay crucified. There are some people, no matter how much you humiliate them and torture them and take from them and kill them, they will rise again!
There are some messages that will not be silenced. There are some movements that cannot be stopped. The light continues to shine in the darkness and the darkness is never going to put it out!
To tell you the truth, I didn’t know if we had it in us. I look back at generations past – I know our indigenous sisters and brothers know what it’s like to fight for their land when they lose their sovereignty. I know my parents and grandparents – they fought in great wars to protect our freedoms. I didn’t know whether we’d be up to it, but it turns out, we are.
We have not bent the knee. We have not given in. We have held the line. We might be on the ropes, but we have not yet hit the canvas. We are still fighting, and this is our time, sisters and brothers. This is our time. This is our time, and we are the people we have been waiting for.
This is the time that our children and grandchildren will look back on one day and say “mum and dad, grandpa and grandpa – they held the line. They stood for something. They made a difference. This is our time. We are the people we have been waiting for.
God give us strength. God give us courage. God give us compassion, one for another, and God grant us victory. In the name of the father, the son and the holy spirit. Amen.