Remain With Him

IMG_0703Palm Sunday, Year C, 2019

Parish of Hatchet Lake and Terrence Bay, Nova Scotia

9:30 AM, 11:15 AM, 7:00 PM

14 April 2019

Readings: Blessing of Palms Gospel: Luke 19:28-40;
Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 31:9-16, Philippians 2:5-11, Luke 23:1-49

I speak to you in the Name of God: + Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We’ve heard it all before, yet it seems that it doesn’t get any easier. On one hand, we celebrate the Kingship of Jesus with Jesus riding in a humble yet kingly parade.

On the other, we’re never quite ready for what comes next. If you’re like me, it can feel like we get to the passion story too soon. Let’s put that off as long as we can! It’s tempting. Better yet, let’s just skip over this week. Let’s go from enjoying the glory of Palm Sunday’s parade, skip Holy Week and move onto the glory of the resurrection.

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Here he comes, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords humbly riding on the back of a colt, celebrated and lifted up by everyday folks just like you and me. Can’t you just imagine all of us there together? Lying down our coats to create a red-carpet worthy of only the best dignitary ever known. There he is, our Lord! Together we shout, sing and dance. “Hosanna! Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”

From where he sits, he sees all of us, all people from everywhere that he has come to save. Here we are. He came so that we might know that we are reconciled, forgiven and free to love God and one another in his name.  From the youngest to the oldest, to – as the apostle Paul will one day write – “There is now no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, there is no male and female; for all of us are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28).

And so, we celebrate. We have a parade with our King and we celebrate. We’re all there, with him!

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But, sadly, the first storm cloud already appears on the horizon.

Luke tells as much in the Palm Sunday Gospel passage that we heard. Luke reminds us that beside us, cheering at the Lord’s arrival in Jerusalem…well…wouldn’t you know?

The Pharisees are there, too. We see them approach Jesus. “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” Jesus answers, “If I silence them, the stones will cry out!”

That’s an amazing and horrifying scenario. “The stones will cry out.” Don’t rain on our parade! We won’t be silenced by those Pharisees! No! Not us! You see…they want to silence Jesus. They want to silence us, his followers.

Do you see what I’m saying here? We long to stay at the Palm Sunday parade in Jerusalem where Jesus rides in triumph. Yet, if we refuse to continue on with Jesus beyond today’s parade, the Pharisees who said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop”get their way. The Pharisees get their way and we leave Jesus. We’re silenced. “Why would we let the Pharisees get their way?”

“Why would we let the Pharisees get their way?” For, “if we remain with Jesus, we will reign with him” as one of our prayers from our Communion service in Lent promises us.

If we want to be with him, he requires that we remain with him through all that he will go through this week. Why would we leave him? He is the one who sticks beside us, no matter what.

We stand beside Jesus at the parade with his followers. How many of us will stay, remaining beside him this week in prayer and praise? How many of us will be there with him as he shares his presence with us at the table of the first Lord’s Supper on Thursday? Will we stand with him as the disciples whom he loves; standing beside his mother Mary, and the others at the foot of the cross on Friday, watching the Lord that we love with our whole heart, soul and mind suffer the horrific agony of his crucifixion?

His mother Mary, and those with her…the disciple whom Jesus loved…they did so because of their love for him. They did so, assured of his love for them.Will we as a sign of our deep love for him and our acceptance of his love for us, remain with him…no matter what?

If we do, we will see the benefits of remaining with him in the sure and certain hope of what will happen next. Because what will happen next, could not have happened the way that it does for each of us without this week.

The poet Richard Wilbur summarizes this all in his hymn, A stable lamp is lighted. Wilbur begins with the amazing story — the greatest love story ever – it’s about Jesus and all us, his followers, in the humble stable where Mary gives birth in a world that cries out. And, more relevant to this week, the poem continues…[the text for this hymn may be found in The Hymnal 1982 #104]

The honest truth is this. “If we remain with Jesus, we will reign with him.” If, we do not let our hearts turn to stone, refusing God’s love.

Amen.