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Palm Sunday - April 10, 2022

Updated: Apr 12, 2022





Palm Sunday has always been a bit of a conundrum to me…As a child, I loved the opportunity to parade around our beautiful church grounds, but was never quite sure why we did it… or if I would escape unscathed…


Unscathed because my brothers were great at teasing me and while I knew quite well they would not throw bodark apples at me during the procession…(after all Dr. Beesley was watching…I was NEVER QUITE sure… The threat was made…I said that I did not believe them, but……


So for all these years upon years Episcopalians have marched waving their Palm branches and this Episcopalian ,for one, was never quite satisfied with the answers I received to my question of …”WHY”?

In truth I think because Dr. Beesley knew it was a journey all along. I just didn’t grasp how important the journey was and is…


This particular journey in Luke begins not in the nineteenth chapter that was read this morning, but with Simeon, Anna, and a baby boy in chapter two of Luke…


Mary and Joseph have brought their baby…as was the custom…to the temple and Simeon…looking forward to the consolation of Israel and with the Holy Spirit resting on him…greeted them

And there was Anna, a prophet of great age who never left the Temple but worshipped there with prayer and fasting day and night…


These two witnesses with exemplary piety, anticipation of redemption, and their responses of praise to God represent the very best of expectant Israel and in their response to the baby…


Testifed to the central place that Jesus already occupied in God’s redemptive plan…


The reality of God’s redemptive plan and the reality of the place that the Temple had in the life of the first century citizen of Israel were very different realities indeed


The Temple has evolved from a journey that began with creation in Genesis and the ministry of Moses and the reception of the tablets in the desert…


And now that journey has culminated with the Temple being a socio religious dominant cultural center…the active center of social order…


It was where leading ideas came together and in such a central place that the events and ideas that most vitally affect the people of Israel took place…


In other words, for Luke the Temple and Jerusalem are seen as a world ordering power…


Even the architecture of the Temple represented the social and religious order of the day…


The Temple was a series of segregating zones that extended from the Temple mount setting forth social and religious relationships…


Segregating Jew and Samaritan; Jew and Gentile; male and female and so on…segregating the people of God into those who were believed to be wholly acceptable to God and those who were not…


Creating in a very real way a superior class of men and inferior classes under them…Rich from poor; Jew from non-Jew; men from women; healthy from the infirmed…


Jerusalem held the place in the hearts and minds of the people as The Holy City…it had the Temple; it was the abode of God; it was the link between human and divine and it was an untouchable territory…


Rather than being a place that spread the love of God; the forgiveness of God; the healing of God…it had become a fortress that dominated the lives of those resident in Israel…


And so the journey that Jesus’ family began for Him in the Temple with Anna and Simeon as Luke tells us culminates in His leaving the region of Jericho and traveling to outside of Jerusalem to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany to the Mount of Olives…


Jesus instructs His disciples to secure a colt and when they had, the disciples threw their cloaks upon it and set Jesus on the back of the colt…


Not shying away from the confrontation that Jesus knew was a certainty, he rode into the city

Surely expecting the subsequent challenges and even His own death…


This act of riding into the city was not an act that Jesus did to claim kingship, but rather we know from Josephus and ancient Maccabean literature that to ride into the city on the back of a colt as victor presupposes an already achieved victory


That would not in any way be lost on the authorities… indeed they were so insulted that they ordered Him to stop and to stop His disciples….


One can imagine their outrage… the entry into Jerusalem was not subtle and they understood it completely…


This man; this Hebrew from the North; this preacher; spoke against everything that they stood for…

He had been systemically tearing down the dividing walls of the Temple…


He preached the love of God, healed the sick, ate with sinners, raised the dead…


For this man, Jesus, God was not confined to the Temple in Jerusalem, but was wherever human beings were …


Jesus’ response to the Pharisees demand for the silencing of the disciples was poignant:


If they are quiet, even the stones will shout…if the disciples are quiet, then creation will pick up the chorus of praise…for this moment begins the salvific plan of God…


And Jesus wept at the sight of the Temple and the city…the refusal to be an instrument of God…and that refusal would result in destruction of the Temple…stone upon stone


The journey that began in the Temple in Jerusalem ended in very much the same place…


You and I begin our journeys in perhaps very different places…it might be in a church yard dodging your brothers great abilities to aim bodark apples from high in a bodark tree…


But I believe that we each have our own wonderful and intriguing stories to tell that speak of journey… success and failure, delight and sadness, fear, loneliness, abuse, seeking, and choosing to hide…


All of these journeys are blessed by God, and I believe more than anything else that I know… is that God in Jesus paved the way in His journey so that the walls of Temple could be torn down


And that the knowledge of God on the move could be spread throughout the world


That which had become unreachable for so many was and is now opened for all


As Fellow Travelers, we all have the opportunity to model openness and respect and delight …. we are most blessed and the opportunity to share those blessings is both our privilege and our call…


Amen





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