Sermon for Palm Sunday March 29, 2015 Preacher: The Rev. Bret B. Hays
The good news is that Palm Sunday offers us many ways of entering the events of Holy Week. The bad news is that we might not want to go. In this one day, we start by re-enacting Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. That part is fun. Then the mood changes like the mood of the crowd did as we jump ahead to the Passion narrative, even though that happened several days later, and even though we will revisit the event on Good Friday. Then in the Eucharistic Prayer we will go back to the night before the crucifixion, and then meet the risen Christ when we receive the consecrated bread and wine. But all of this frenetic jumping around in time gives us the chance to enter this most captivating story in our own ways.
Some of us are drawn in by the lighthearted triumphal entry; perhaps we find ourselves as a face in the crowd lining the road, jostling to the front to lay down our own palm branch. Perhaps we want to bear Jesus like the donkey or follow him up to the Temple or invite him to stay in our home. Some of us are drawn in by the drama of the last supper or the passion; perhaps we are an anxious disciple with questions to ask or doubts to hide. Perhaps we identify with the disciples who fell asleep in the garden, then fled. Perhaps we connect with Peter’s denial, or even Judas’s betrayal, the council’s jealousy, the crowd’s venom, Pilate’s cynical expediency, or the soldiers’ cruelty, the sin within us that Jesus was determined to forgive on the cross. Maybe we are lining the route to Golgotha, or even compelled to join the grim procession, carrying the cross ourselves for a time. Perhaps we join Mary, John, and Mary Magdalene watching in silence, as close to the cross as we dare to come.
The important thing is that you find some way to connect to the story, the heart of the Christian faith and the climax of salvation history. After today, the jumble of moments will slow down to real time. The Great Three Days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday create a space we can explore, a route we can travel together, and the preparation we need to greet the risen Lord in the joyful light of Easter. When we give ourselves fully to this experience, our hearts are renewed and our faith is strengthened, so I urge you to come to church for all three of those days, and to sanctify the rest of this week with fervent and honest prayer. You should also take advantage of our new offering this year of sacred music on Wednesday night and stay for the healing service if you feel the need.
The church reflects the example of Jesus in offering a wealth of healing, sustenance, and grace. In these ways, we can be both recipients and givers, through the devotion that the Holy Spirit inspires in us. Join Our Lord Jesus Christ and his followers in every generation in the journey to Jerusalem, our sacred pilgrimage to upper room, cross, and empty tomb.
We will glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ: In whom is our salvation, our life and resurrection.
Assist us mercifully with your help, O Lord God of our salvation, that we may enter with joy upon the contemplation of those mighty acts, whereby you have given us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.