Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday Sermon

O Lord, in our weakness, be our strength; in our troubles, be our peace; in our danger, be our shelter; in our fears, be our hope; and help us in our hearts to remember you walk with us always. Amen.

Jesus lived on borrowed time.
Think about the story of his life: Jesus was born in a borrowed place and laid in a borrowed manger. As he traveled, he had no place of his own so he spent his nights in a "borrowed" space somewhere.

In the account of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, the Gospel of Mark makes a point of the fact that the donkey was borrowed. He sends two disciples to a nearby village where they find a colt. If anyone questions you, Jesus directs, tell them that "The Master needs it" and assure them it will be returned.

And so Jesus enters Jerusalem, seated on a borrowed donkey, acclaimed by the crowds as the "one who comes in the name of the Lord." He ate his final meal in a borrowed upper room. And when he died, his body was placed in a borrowed tomb.

What kind of Messiah, what kind of king, makes his grand entrance on a borrowed donkey? Buried in a borrowed tomb?

Think about what St. Paul says to us today, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus… who, emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.”

Jesus owns nothing. He possesses nothing. He takes nothing for himself but shares whatever is given him. His only possession is compassion: love freely given, without limit or condition or expectation. That is what he asks of those who would follow him. For it is the Kingdom of God - a Kingdom built of justice, of mercy, of reconciliation, of peace.

It is that Kingdom of God that Jesus preaches and models and ultimately dies for - on a cross that was borrowed, as well. [Adapted from sermons by William Carter and Rob Elder, Day One.]
Be of the same mind, says St. Paul, think of how Jesus lived, who emptied himself of his very divinity to take on the cross for the sake of all of God's creation.

As we walk with Jesus this Holy Week, may we learn to empty ourselves of our egos, our wants and expectations, our possessions, in order to make room in our lives for the simple, liberating love of God, to take up our cross and follow him on the path he walked.
As Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it, “We need to immerse ourselves over and over again for periods of time and very quietly into the living, speaking, acting, suffering and dying of Jesus, so that we may recognize what God promises and what God fulfills.”
May we borrow from the humble of spirit of Jesus, as we carry our cross, enabling us to build the Kingdom of God in this time and place of ours. For it is in taking the time to live into his experience, from the last supper through the cross and beyond that will help our lives understand God’s promise to be with us always and will guide us in helping this hurting world.

Teach us the path, show us the way by Malcolm Boyd
from Are you Running with me, Jesus? (1965)
(Rev. Malcolm Boyd died this year at age 91.)

They say that everyone has a cross to bear, Jesus. And you once said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” What do those things mean? I think they mean that every person ultimately has to face up to reality – face one's own calling, destiny, nature and responsibilities.

In your own life, Jesus, you faced reality directly and unequivocally. You incarnated the truth as you believed it. You didn't pander to any easy or obvious popularity. You attacked the hypocrisies of the human power structure head on. You rejected status quo in favor of obedience to the Realm of God. And when it came to taking consequences, you didn't shy away from torture and execution.

The way of the cross was your understanding of your mission and your faithfulness to it. The way of the cross seems to be, for every individual Christian, the reality that dictates styles of life, defines mission, and brings a person into communion with you. Help me bear my cross on the way of the cross, Jesus. Amen.

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