Palm Sunday Yr B March 25 2018 Audio
I have chosen to say a few words at this spot today because it makes more sense to me to talk about Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, and then to receive the story of Jesus' passion in silence. Liturgically, we do something very odd here. We begin our worship together with waving palms, with the parade, and with Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, and we end our worship in quiet, as we prepare for the unfolding of this passionate story through out the week. Please know that it takes all week to hear this story, to participate in this story, to be able to approach Easter and resurrection. This week carve out time to participate, you all have full lives, but this week, of all the weeks of our lives, is the week to be here.
In this culture of go, go, go, the only time we ever seem to slow down, or even stop, is when a loved one dies. So many of you have been there. We gather, we tell stories, about who they are, about the last time we were together, about the last things they were doing. We grieve and are sad, we cry, we wait, we celebrate their life, we eat, and we do all these things together. This is that week, this death is that death, and we need do it together.
But for this moment, I need to reflect on the Palm of Palm Sunday. Jesus and the disciples and thousands of other pilgrims have made their way to Jerusalem for the Passover. Jesus hailed as a king. Not Caesar, not the appointed Roman governor. But a new king – one for the poor, for those without voices, for those left behind. Jesus is hailed as King, yet riding on a donkey. The disciples welcome him into their city, Jerusalem, and shout "blessed is the one who comes in the name of The Lord – the king of Israel" for now. They lay down their cloaks, holey as they are. And for the time being, we are all willing to follow. But are we also willing to follow into trouble, controversy, trial and death?
The donkey, the disciples, the display. When we look closely we see the people gathered for this parade, this march, this entrance into Jerusalem. They are not the important and powerful, but the poor and marginalized, maybe even the young, all Jesus' disciples. This very important but very brief story shows us that Love does not win by the world's standards. Jesus comes as the fulfillment of the nation's hopes, answering our longings for a king who would bring peace to earth from heaven itself. Jesus brings the peace that surpasses understanding, and much of what is about to unfold in the next few days will be the price he pays to bring it. His disciples, of course, have seen things that have changed their lives forever and have raised their hopes. Indeed, our lives our changed.
This is not about the powerful Pharisees, grumbling about what will happen if the authorities in Jerusalem think that there's a messianic demonstration going on. From now on we see them no more. It is not about the powerful or wealthy people of the day, it is about the Kingdom of God in which the last will be first and the first will be last. It is about the woman who anoints Jesus with a very costly ointment of nard. It is about Judas, one of the twelve, one of Jesus’ friends, who makes a choice of power and greed over love. It is about bread and blessing, it is about prayer and emptying, it is about betrayal and it is about love.
Love wins by God's defeat of evil, and our participation in the new life made possible by the work of Jesus. God gives up Godself for us, those God loves, thus empowering and emboldening us to do the same.
This is the holiest of weeks. We have prepared ourselves throughout Lent for this journey with Jesus. We come to this Passover festival with Jesus' disciples, we come lean and fit, free of all the stuff that has held us hostage, as that is what our Lenten discipline has done for us. We have carried our own cross with us, by the cross traced on our foreheads, we have remembered who and whose we are. We have left behind that which keeps us prisoner to the world's wants and wills, we have disassembled brick by brick the walls that we had build to shield us from God's love. We make this journey with Jesus, and revel in the pre-Passover party.
Rejoice in this moment. This moment of welcome, when the shouts of "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord – the King of Israel” are heard throughout the cosmos. This moment is fleeting. It turns quickly to the terrifying shouts of the crowd, "crucify him."
After the story this morning, we will sit in the silence for a time. As we leave this space today, we enter into a Holy Week. Please don't wait to come back until Easter, come back to walk these steps to the cross with Jesus, and your Easter joy may be complete. Amen.