Saturday, April 12, 2014

Whose Story? Palm Sunday Sermon

Year A Palm Sunday
“Whose story?”
St. Thomas Episcopal, Richmond

[Today’s homily is short because of the particularly long Gospel reading, Matthew 26:14-27:66]

In the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Joseph Campbell, eminent mythologist of PBS fame, said that “Ritual is the enactment of a myth.”  Myth here being a story that shapes and directs our lives, not a falsehood.  We hear today the quintessential Jesus stories (Part I) that shape and direct our lives.  

We hear of the Supper with friends, the Passover Seder, where the righteous remembered God’s deliverance from slavery.

We hear of the Garden, and the innocent betrayals of sleepy eyes and foggy brains.

We see the betrayal of a trusted friend and disciple, with the most awful of weapons, a lecherous kiss.

We see political intrigue, and authoritative ennui.  We see illegal trials, and an Innocent condemned.

We see a murderer chosen over a healer, an insurgent over a man of peace.

We see a scourging, one blow less than what was considered lethal.

We see mockery and scorn.  We watch the way of the Cross, to the place of the Skull.  We see it all played out before us.

We see the crowd who had waved the palms in praise, morph into the crowd who cried out, “Crucify!  Crucify.”

We see it all.  We see Jesus hung high.  We see Jesus suffer.  We see Jesus die.

We see it all, but do we?  When we tell this tale, is it a long time ago in an empire far, far away?

Or do we see ourselves in the story?  

Are we the ones trying to stay awake?

Are we the betrayers for silvered palms?

Are we the ones who flog and mock?

Are we the ones who do not intervene when we have the power to stop this atrocity?

Are we forced to carry a shameful cross, imposed by brutes, for a perfect stranger?

Are we the executioners, worried more for our winnings than the souls we are dismissing?

Are we the fellow condemned, mocking still with our last breaths?

Are we there?

Is this then, or is it now?  Has the story ceased?  Or do we live it our still to this day?

When we come to Christ’s table to RE-connect and to RE-member, is it then, so far away and so long ago?  Or is it still horrifying and brutal, and real, more real than anything we know?  

What is it that happened then?  What is it that happens here, every Sunday, week in, week out?  

If our rituals are enactments of this life-changing story, then obviously we are trying to make the There-and-Then our Here-and-Now.  

How do you practice the Last Supper in your life?  How do you practice the Garden?  

How do you embrace being scorned and scourged?  How do you practice taking up a cross?  

How do you practice crucifixion?  How do you witness the injustice?  How do you experience the awe?  How do you make this story your own?  

What do you do with the rest of your story?  Do you see Christ’s story as a part of your own?

However you see it, my prayer for all of us is that we echo the words of that Roman centurion from our reading today.  May this story, and its enactment at this table and more importantly IN OUR LIVES, always drive us to say, "Truly this man was God's Son!"  Amen.

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Blessings, Rock