Sunday, March 25, 2018

Year B Palm Sunday A Humble Threat

Year B Palm Sunday 25 March 2018 
St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA 
“A Humble Threat”  
Collect: Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 
Mark 14:1-15:47 Link to today's texts I did not include them here because of the length of the 2 chapters. 
...Then Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” All of them deserted him and fled… [Congregation breaks after this till Recessional] 
We pause. We halt here, right on the cusp. We have seen the goodbyes, and we have heard the anxious pleas for the inevitable to never come. We see Jesus abandoned. Even in the midst of this, our Master and King delivers Grace, a healing even for his enemies.  
Alas, we know what the story is. Like a ball reaching its apogee, we all know what the outcome will be. As sure as gravity. As sure as hate. As sure as the sun coming up, all must be fulfilled. 
“But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” Hear the inevitability in Jesus’ own voice. 
He knew the Scriptures backward and forward, and he knew that the Son of Man must suffer death and be buried, and on the third day rise again. 
Think of how today started, shouts of “Hosanna!” Much like we use, Hooray, it does not have a true meaning. It comes from the same stem as save or rescue. But mostly it was an expression of adoration or joy. 
 And we have to remember, this was a time of occupation by the Romans, who understood pomp and circumstance. They knew how to get people’s attention. Often, before a leader would parade in, there were shouts of the criers, EuangelionEuangelion!” Good News! Good News! One is coming in the name of Caesar! And the general with his troops would parade in. The General or Governor coming in on a chariot or a fine warhorse or stallion. These ridiculous military parades were about promoting power and fulfilling ego needs. 
 Can you see what is being done here? A mockery, a jest of the powers that be. The songs of praise and shouts of Hosanna are in direct opposition to what was the norm. Hosanna, hosanna, blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Very different that what they had become used to, what was normal. Jesus on the foal of a donkey is parading in mocking all the powers that be: the religious leaders riding on Rome’s coattails, the Governor and soldiers who held absolute, unquestionable power. And Jesus, hearing these shouts on Sunday, knowing what the week will bring. 
  They had to kill him. This humble man on a donkey posed too much of a threat. And Jesus knew it and prophesied to his disciples. 
 When we go to get a procedure done, the doctor does not say, “This will hurt.” We already know it probably will. And our imaginations do not make it any easier. We pre-feel the pain. We pre-wince. We know. And so did he in the Garden of Gethsemane. 
And Jesus said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me... 
And even still, with faith that moved mountains, removed mountains of sin, he prayed also, not my will but thine be done. 
 We stopped today in the middle of the Gospel, for many reasons.  

  • One, it is awfully long. And in its length we easily zone out, and begin to let it slip by all that was done to him, and by him.  
  • We stopped also so we could see where in the story we place ourselves weekly, coming to Christ’s table where all are wanted and all are welcome.  
  • We stopped today also, so that we can have the words haunting us as we depart in silence. As he goes out to Golgotha, so must we turn our faces toward Jerusalem in Holy Week, and face what we do not want to face, and remember what we do not wish to remember.  

God help us. God forgive us. God bless our steps into this most Holy of Weeks. 

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Blessings, Rock