Palm Sunday Yr A April 17, 2011. Ocean Forest
The Jesus Way
Matthew 21:1-11, Philippians 5:1-11
after viewing a media file called, “Palm Sunday”
Which way do we want? We are all supposed to say, “God’s way”; the way of Jesus, serving, loving, self-sacrificing. That’s is St Paul’s vision of us as God’s community, as he quotes what seems to be a song lyric – famously now called, “The Christ Hymn” in Philippians 2 that we heard.
The vision of Palm Sunday Christianity is being as Jesus is – the humble servant. The encouragement is to direct us to each take the very form of being a servant to all, humbling ourselves before God and each other all the time; giving up our own dreams and visions and needs for our life for the sake of each other and anyone in need.
Of course, we know this and we want to be this and we are this in many ways. We Christians generally, and we who belong to this community specifically, value serving and giving of ourselves for the sake of God’s kingdom. I trust that God has been teaching us his servant way all the way through our lives. As we remember this Palm Sunday and events of Holy week; the supper, the trial, the via dolorosa, the cross, we are encouraged again to stay the course on the way of Jesus – the way of humility, serving, selfless living and giving.
Palm Sunday is an encouragement to live the Jesus Way in this place. Palm Sunday is a call to stay in way of the Servant as we serve our children selflessly, serve each other when we gather and when we meet each other during the week, give of our time and effort to do things that hopefully further the gospel in other people’s lives – whether people are friends, strangers or even enemies. This is the Jesus way and this is Palm Sunday faith and life. Of course this is our way but it is not everyone else’s way. Because the Jesus way of self-giving and humble serving of others is not everyone else’s way, it can be hard to walk in.
I wrote this in the school newsletter this week…
I have been feeling so uneasy about all the terrible stuff that has been reported as happening throughout our Australian military community these last weeks. From experience with individuals who have been dealt the unjust and destructive blow of having someone else abuse them verbally, sexually or with just plain violence, I can only feel so sad about what the victims of such evil behaviour now have to live with every day of their lives.
The seeking and maintaining of power over others, especially through unjust and godless means is not the Jesus way. It upsets me. I know it upsets you and many Christians.
I went on to say… To me, our over sexed culture is one more sign that human beings are fundamentally flawed in character. As St Paul says in his letter the community in Rome, what we do with the amazing gift of human sexuality and sex is what we do with any good gift from the Giver of all good gifts – we exchange it for something less and so destroy it in some way. Instead of being thankful and receiving sex as an absolutely pure and beautiful gift to be shared in the boundaries of a life-long relationship of loyalty, commitment and care (marriage), we just use it however, whenever and in whatever way we choose, thereby diminishing it in some way and causing ourselves huge pain (as the reports from Air Force and Navy are showing). We pretend that we are god and that God is not, and that the Creator has nothing to give or say about the very life and love he has already given us! The “we” there is me. We Christians are not beyond giving into our natural flawed desires experience power and control and generally trample on God’s good gifts by taking them and using them in harmful and destructive ways for our own glory. This desire comes from within our hearts and the only way to be healed and find freedom enough to be self-control is to repent of it all and humble ourselves before God.
That can seem like a daunting thing to do – especially when we hear of this fierce Jesus throwing down tables of produce and money in the public square with all the fury of a judging and jealous God, or when we hear of him cursing a non-productive olive tree to destruction!
Jesus means business with human power, pride and prejudice, that’s for sure. You could never accuse Jesus of taking injustice, usery, corruption, the tyranny of oppressing people with tonnes and tonnes of guilt and endless do’s and don’ts, and the abuse of privilege and power lightly. On Palm Sunday we hear of him beginning to name names and call spades spades. He is entering into human corruption and power politics. He is entering into the dark world of human selfishness and need for greed.
It will cost him. He will pay the price any of us do when we choose the way of Jesus in the face of the way of Caiaphus, Pilate, Judas, Scribes, Pharisees, Dictators, Despots, soldier bullies and those who cover up the mess with corrupt designs.
But he will pay the cost fully and freely – not us. He will stand his ground. He will stay the course on his Jesus’ way to last drop of blood.
He will take all our pain of abuse – be it sexual, verbal, violent or the corrupt rule of a few over the many and triumph.
He will transform the inner spirit of each of us so that there is the ability to say “no” to those dark desires within and he will cover the mistakes and the guilt and troubled conscience with peace and gracious love and new power of the Spirit to walk his Jesus way. He will ask us to want his way and not our own this week and this next weekend. He will ask us to stay with him and not look away when he gets furious or ugly to our view. He will ask us to be there at the end and see humility and self-sacrifice triumph over all the dimensions of the other way.
Walk Jesus’ way this week.
Let him take you into his humility and then his victory and be freed of needing to serve yourself.
Let him bring you more fully into the experience of being free in his grace –
free enough to serve and love and give without counting the cost;
free enough to praise his name with all your heart and be renewed in joy as Easter Day draws near, for he is near.