April 2, 2023
The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor
Rush United Methodist Church
When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
| Centering Prayer |
John Wesley, Methodism’s historical church father,
Reflecting on our gospel Palm Sunday lesson from Matthew wrote the following,
“it is for the comfort of my soul
for the honour of his humility,
and for the utter confusion of all worldly pomp and grandeur.”
Indeed, with historical hindsight,
We are comforted by the fact that Jesus had arrived
At his final.
We know his triumphant entry into Jerusalem leads to his death
And the redemption of the world.
Triumphant entry: Yeah!
Death: Complete despair.
Redemption: God’s plan, necessary pain, all along.
(Pause for contemplation)
The crowd had no clue.
They expected Jesus to be their political solution
To end the Roman problem.
They expected Jesus to lead the rebellion
That sends Pontius Pilate and his legions back were they came from.
They expected Jesus to enter the Temple gate
And cleanse organized religion of all its internal rot.
We expect Jesus to die by Friday,
Less all our Holy Week plans become disrupted and fail.
The crowd had no clue.
Their shouts of acclamation,
Here-to-fore stifled by our Christ,
Less it draw cause for the religious authorities
to prematurely interrupt his agenda
are now allowed to go unrestrained.
There is no longer need for caution;
Jesus knows death is imminent.
The comfort we find in this triumphant entry
Is deeply rooted in the personal reality
That the actions of Jesus,
To suffer and die,
Are for my personal gain.
(Pause for reflection)
When did you and I become so self-centered?
Jesus is looking into a crowd of people shouting Hosannas,
Just as we proclaim at Holy Communion.
He knows who will be responsible for his death.
This same crowd will be the ones who,
In a few short days,
Will shout “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
Yet, he humbly sits on a donkey and makes his way
Through the confusion of worldly pomp and grandeur.
Looking into the eyes of your betrayer will give a person chest pains.
For Jesus, looking into the eyes of his betrayers lands him on a cross;
Exposed, bleeding, and dying
Out in the open
In plane sight
For all the world to see.
And so it is
When we lift high the name of Jesus on Sunday
But deny him the other six days of this week
We take our place in the crowd whose “Hosannas” are replaced with “Crucify him”.
Hosanna literally means, “Lord save us”.
Don’t we still want to be saved the other six days of the week?
Or are we content to roll the dice and take our chances?
(Pause to reflect)
Let us not forget our roots!
Jesus came from Galilee
Where he taught, healed, forgave sins, and resurrected the dead.
Jesus came from the town of Nazareth
From which he began a ministry
of reaching out to everyone that society had tossed out and left for dead:
the poor, blind, deaf, mute, diseased, disfigured, prostitutes, and people caught in adultery.
This, and more, define our deeply ingrained roots.
Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength;
And love your neighbor as yourself.
The values of his preaching, teaching and healing
are riding that donkey into Jerusalem this morning.
Let us not forget our roots!
We drag our sorry, sinful, backsliding selves into worship every Sunday
Smug in the knowledge of God’s redeeming grace,
Yet remembering the Christian values that have surfaced and taught to us
Since our earliest memories.
Sitting on my father’s lap;
is that so different than the picture of Jesus with all the children coming unto him?
Taking my place at the dinner table and saying grace;
Is that so different than what took place in the Upper Room?
My mother cleaning up my bicycle induced laceration;
Is that so different than the women who went to clean, dress, and prepare the bloody corpse of Jesus?
Our roots teach us, inform us, guide us.
Listen to what our ancestors have to say.
Though everyone loves a parade,
We should think twice before we take our place in this crowd.
Homicide should never be an aspiration.
OK, so, we aren’t the crowd.
We shouldn’t be the stained, soiled, or deeply flawed disciples
(Lord knows how Peter and Judas end up).
And we certainly can’t claim to be the Christ.
We are left asking, “where is our place in this triumphant parade story?”
What role are to we play this coming Holy Week?
Our role is to be the eyes and ears of Christ this Holy week.
We are to humbly look to the world,
See the need,
And to respond
just as Christ would respond.
Jerusalem was far from perfect;
So too is the world in which we live.
Can we respond with the love of Christ
In the midst of people who hate you with a smile,
People who would knife you in the back while they are singing your praise,
With people who are so superficial that they would toss you away like an old rag?
Can we enter Jerusalem with Jesus
To squirm in prayer and sweat with blood?
To taste and see the temptation to bolt and run?
Can we look upon the one who denies us and love her?
Can we look upon the one who betrays us and love him?
Can we look down from the cross and see our mother crying?
Can we hear creation groaning in travail, as if in childbirth?
Can we hear the rustle of Divine movement in our midst?
Can we hear the needs of the world
And be so moved by love to meet every need?
So much anticipation.
So much anticipation filled the air
At this triumphant entry,
Let us now be his eyes and ears
And journey with him
Into this Holy Week.