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Fickle People, Loving God - Sermon for Palm Sunday 2015

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A short homily on the nature of human beings and when leaders don't fulfill our unrealistic expectations.

The text notes I preached from are after the sermon audio for convenience, however, I suggest you listen to the sermon audio, because there were numerous changes during the delivery.  It is in the delivery of a sermon in the midst of the people of God which is where he Holy Spirit is doing the strongest work within me; and there will not only be some changes to the notes but also emphasis and intonations that don't occur in the notes. 

Sermon delivered at United Lutheran Church of Oakland

March 29, 2015  - Palm Sunday

"Fickle People, Loving God" - Lectionary text from Mark 11:1-11 and Mark 14:1-25.

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Click here for sermon audio








Greetings to you this day my sisters and brothers, saints and sinners, children of God.

At last we've come to that point in the Lenten season, as we are carried through along the way through the miracles and predictions and we have come to that beloved moment, that arrival in Jesus' journey that has brought us to his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. On the back of a colt, Jesus enters, flanked by this disciples and those who have been following him along the way, with people spreading their cloaks at his feet along with palm fronds, flowers and who knows what else, celebrating the arrival of this wondrous man. 

And even Jesus has all this told the disciples as well as those cured from healings and demons to tell no one what they have seen, still, the message somehow has gotten spread, that there is a change coming and that a great man is in the world and it seems that all of the city has come out to great this Jesus from Galilee, this son of the House of David.

Hosannah, they cry! Hossanah in the highest!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

Einzug Christi in Jerusalem by Meister der Palastkapelle, Public domain, available at Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Meister_der_Palastkapelle_in_Palermo_002.jpg

And this Israel is groaning, it has been yearning for so long to shake off the yoke of its oppressors; once the Babylonians, then the Persians, the Greeks, and now the Romans. And so the long-suffering people are awaiting that king, that messiah, to shake the yoke of rome off of them, and here is this man of the house of David riding on the back of a colt! It is but more fulfillment of the prophecies. For Zechariah reads: 

"Rejoice greatly O daughter zion! Shout aloud O daughter Jerusalem!

Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he,

Humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." 

This is the one who will save them. He is the one who will set them free. 

And yet, we who are reading this scripture do it with the foreknowledge of what is to come. We all know how short lived that triumph was.  No sooner does Jesus enter Jerusalem that he will be setting their world on fire, but not in the way these people expect.  Throwing down tables in the temple, not fighting the Romans, but challenging the authority of the priests and scribes, the very ones who controlled the telling of scripture, who kept the knowledge of the world to themselves--it must have felt like to a lot of the people that the one coming that they wanted and were expecting was not going to be the leader that they were going to get.  

Who can relate to this? One day they will raise you up and tell you that you are everything that they ever wanted, that they ever needed that you were the answer that they were praying for, and the next they'll be going behind your back, and finding a way to get rid of you. Isn't that just like the fickleness of people? 

Human beings are fickle and we can often set others on pedestals, only to tumble them down when we realize that our all-too-high expectations are not met.  And it's not like it's always malicious the way that we intend. We are also protective of those things that we love. We strive for being free of those things that torment us and make our lives hard, but we are also fearful of change, of moving into a new places in our lives. And so when things get upset in a way that we do not expect, we try to put a stop to it. It's human nature.  And so although we can read this account with horror and sadness, and think about how horrible those Judeans were, the people of Jerusalem that turned on Jesus were, we must also realize that those people, although separated from us by thousands of years, are also very like ourselves.  

And nevertheless, Jesus loved them.  This humble messiah, obedient not to the masses but to his Abba God, forgave those that would put him on that cross and cause his life to end, and he loved them.    

When Jesus was arrested, most of the disciples scattered and vanished and scattered nowhere to be found and Jesus still loved them. Peter, in his fear, would deny him and say that he did not know him, and still Jesus loved him.  Even knowing one who was going to betray him, Jesus still let him travel with the group, and loved him despite what Judas' actions would put Jesus through.  Still, the one who would give his life for us and because of us, so that we might experience salvation, he broke bread with them all, and modeled for them the eucharistic meal that we share today, that become for them and becomes for us his body and blood.  

Still Jesus was to be kissed by Judas and suffer under Pilate and be mocked by the very people of Jerusalem who were barely days earlier proclaiming his glory in the streets. Still he would be nailed to a cross, left to hung in humiliation for the crime of loving humanity, the shame of the worst punishment the Roman Empire could offer, and still Jesus rose up in order that he bring those people who turned so easily on him and us to him and to God to rule us in glory.  Still his dead body would be laid into an empty tomb, wrapped in cloth and anointed with oils and the world would cry, and yet that moment is indelibly chiseled into human history as the moment that death became life, that the king of the world had been thrown down while the king of heaven took over. 

This is the moment that God meets us in our humanity taking death away that we might live forever. This is the moment that we are given that great gift of God's grace that our sins might be washed away in the blood of his sacrifice and that we may, sanctified, share that life with him in heaven. This is the moment that we are faulty and incomplete humans that we are, made perfect, in his loving, and glorious light. 

And that, my sisters and brothers, is good news. 

Amen.   

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This page contains a single entry by Cary Bass-Deschenes published on March 29, 2015 5:51 PM.

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