Palm Sunday

“Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” Jesus asked. “We can,” James and John answered.

Often times, preachers will preach sermons on how naive or selfish James and John were for asking for thrones next to Jesus in glory. But, I pray for myself and all of us here that we might have the courage of a James  or a John or a Mary Magdalene or a Mother Theresa. We often hear sermons on how frail and stupid the disciples were. Sure they weren't the quickest to catch on to Jesus' teaching. Still, everyone of those twelve, and many of the women with them, went up that road prepared to suffer and die.

Mark 10:32-40
Palm Sunday
Lent 6
As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice

Palm and Passion Sunday are not in opposition. They are Acts in the same drama. The story of Palm Sunday provides two of the five reasons for Jesus going to the cross.

For: 
April 14, 2019
Luke 19:28-40
Lent 6
Palm Sunday

The story of Jesus falls into two halves; the part before Palm Sunday and the week after it. Before Palm Sunday, Jesus very rarely says or does anything overtly political. He doesn’t seem to have any ambition other than to teach and heal people. Then suddenly he comes to Holy Week and everything he does is political. Before Palm Sunday, Jesus deals with us on the level playing field of interpersonal relationships and the fair exchange of ideas. He teaches in open fields where people can interrupt him and ask him questions. He forms an intimate circle of disciples where everyday life — how are you today, Peter?—is valued. He heals by touching and his favorite miracle is having a few loaves of bread multiply as they are passed from one hungry person to another.

On Palm Sunday he exits the egalitarian world and enters politics as we know it today. As he transitions into the walled and gated city of our newsfeed world, he does three symbolic acts to ask for our vote: 1) He accepts the nomination of his followers who shout that he is Messiah or King of Jews, 2) He rides a donkey through the Eastern Gate, fulfilling prophesies relating to a new political age, 3) He has people wave palm branches, which are symbolic reminders of an earlier revolution when the Maccabeans kicked the Seleucids out of Jerusalem.

In doing this Jesus challenges our hierarchal world. In a world where Caesar is over Pontius Pilate, who is over the people of Judea, Jesus says, “You would have no authority if God hadn’t given it to you.” In the religious world where the High Priest rules over lesser priests who rule over laity, Jesus announces his own unique relationship as the son of God. His very presence in Jerusalem, the capital, circumvents the established authority.

For: 
March 25, 2018
Mark 11:1-11
John 12:12-16
Palm Sunday
Lent 7

It is hard to celebrate Palm Sunday, and read Psalm 118, with today’s newspaper in your hand without reflecting upon the term outsider. The stone which the builders rejected, has become the chief cornerstone. Is this being said about Jesus, Christopher Columbus, or Donald Trump? You form a mental picture of Jesus leading his noisy throng up to the gates of Jerusalem. The religious and political leadership of the nation is standing on a parapet high above, and crying out for someone to bar the door. Now shift the mental picture and see the towering glass building of Wall Street, and dodging the yellow cabs below is a parade of Bernie Sanders supporters, shouting about breaking up the big banks and raising the minimum wage to $15. Perhaps we need to step aside from Palm Sunday a moment and consider the role of an outsider, both for our personal religious journey, and for our common good.

 

For: 
March 15, 2016
Psalm 118
John 12, Luke 19:28-40
Palm Sunday
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