Lent Evensong Sermon Series: Political Themes in Lent and Passiontide

This Lent, the Sunday sermons by Paul Overend, the new Canon Chancellor, will explore some political themes in Lent and Passiontide.

The seasons of Lent and Passiontide are times of prayer and devotional engagement with the last days of Jesus’s life and his death, which provide a period for personal renewal and preparation for participating in the Easter hope of new life, through baptism. But Lent and Passiontide also evoke political themes and engage with particular events in Jerusalem.

For example:

  • The 40 days of Lent, which recall the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for his ministry and for calling his disciples to follow him, evoke the 40 years that Moses led his people into freedom.
  • The pilgrim festival of the Passover, for which Jesus and his disciples go up to Jerusalem, is the festival that recalls the Ancient Israelites’ liberation from Egypt, which is being celebrated in Jesus’s day under Roman occupation.
  • Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem and his turning over of the moneychangers’ tables leads to his arrest in Gethsemane and his trial for sedition.
  • Jesus is robed as a king and mocked by soldiers. The political charge of sedition, ‘King of the Jews’, is also hung over his head when he dies on the cross.
  • But it is the Exodus song of Miriam and Moses (Exodus 14) that Christians sing at Easter, before gathering at the waters of the font to be renewed in baptismal rebirth as citizens of heaven.

Events in Jesus’s life are understood against the remembered story of Ancient Israel, but they can also shed light onto our own political identity and engagement. These sermons therefore offer a political reading of Lent and Passiontide, engaging with public and political dimensions of these seasons, to consider how they might contribute to our own political formation as Christians.

Lent 1 (18-02-2018)
On Ash Wednesday
Ash – personal penance; public and prayerful protest

Lent 2 (25-02-2018)
On the Sundays of Lent
Wilderness – Sinai, Masada, and the Egyptian Desert

Lent 3 (04-03-2018)
On Palm Sunday
Jerusalem – the temple, money changers, and the Occupy Movement

Lent 4 (11-03-2018)
On Maundy Thursday
Passover – liberation, covenant and identity

Lent 5 (18-03-18)
On Good Friday
The Cross – structural sin and salvation