Sunday April 5th, 2020Rev. Roberta HoweyPalm Sunday Service
Peace Be With You!
Opening Prayer, by Jeffery Dale of Shining Waters Regional Council.
God, when we feel isolated and lack a sense of certainty, we feel as though we can respond through your spirit. We are working to build new relationship, new ways of understanding how to be family together. We know we are part of the great kindom, that spreads both far and wide. We will wave our arms as high as possible, Our palms will bring us shelter in the times of need, And be a beacon of our hope in the shining sun.
Theme Time Question: What is something that you did this week that was for someone else? What did someone do for you this week?
Followed by Lord’s Prayer
A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus arrives in Jerusalem
Jesus was being talked about all over Jerusalem! “He is coming!” Someone would shout in the market place. “Have you heard? Jesus, the one they call the Messiah is coming here!” Another would say to her friend. And it happened, just as they said it would. Jesus and his disciples, his friends that learned from him how to follow the way he was instructing, began walking towards Jerusalem. Many people were expecting Jesus to be like the leaders in the city. Some dreamed of a man who would come in on a white steed and he would save the people from the Roman Empire. Others imagined he would look even more like a God they had heard about from the Chief Priests.
When Jesus and his disciples reached the Mount of Olives, just outside of Jerusalem, Jesus looked at two of his disciples and said, “In the village in front of us, you are going to find a donkey and her baby, a little colt, bring them back to me.” Jesus’ disciples didn’t like to take what didn’t belong to them, and they were scared someone would get them in trouble. As they stood there worried about what Jesus was asking, Jesus said, 6 “If anyone asks you about what you are doing say, ‘Jesus, the Messiah needs them.’” Jesus’ disciples knew he was the Messiah so they ran off to the village and brought back the donkey and her colt.
Jesus and his disciples continued on to Jerusalem and as they were getting closer to the gates they started to see a crowd of people coming out to greet them! People waving palm branches and shouting loudly, “Hosanna! Hosanna! To the Son of David!” Jesus caused a real stir that day in Jerusalem. In every corner of the city you could hear people whispering, “Who is this guy that everyone is so excited about?” “Is that who they say is the Messiah? What’s his name? Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee?” Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ disciples, snuck off and went to the Chief Priests and he said to them, “What will you give me if I tell you who Jesus is?” The Chief Priests looked at Judas, they didn’t trust him, but he was their only hope to capture Jesus, so they said, “We will give you thirty pieces of silver!” Judas decided that he wanted the silver so he would find a time to tell them who Jesus was.
The irony of talking about a parade when we are not even able to fill a minivan is not lost on me. I can think of several things I would give up to be able to walk down the street, or watch hundreds do so, in a parade of celebration and action. And normally I hate parades, they are too crowded. Still, the idea of being able to gather in person is, once again, centering my thoughts like the Sun.
2000 years ago, there were only so many ways to tell a tyrant you are fed up with his behaviour. If you didn’t have a military, a pile of gold, or a clearly angry god on your side, well, it was often better to just let your king ignore you. Obey the law, pay your dues, and avoid the wrath of someone who would, by all rights, be able to take your land, sell your children, and kill you just because you resembled someone he doesn’t like. The vast majority would not have that military, gold, or an angry god, so they tried to make do with what they had.
Any protests against the regime had to be undercover, with whispers of dissent. And if you really wanted to overthrow the current dictator of the day, you best make sure you win. There would be no second chances.
This isn’t to say that people didn’t resist. Jewish populations still grew despite unrest. There were people with means who would fund orphanages or charities. And we can’t forget Esther, the Jewish queen (and there is a lot to cover in that story) who saved her people by making the king promise that they would be spared. That is a full sermon series in itself.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like resisting something today. Normally, we would have clear ideas on what we are fighting today, and we do have names: Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, racism, sexism, transphobia and homophobia, ableism, classism. We have a lot of clear stories, like this one, that show how we can tell the world what we both stand for, and stand against. Stand for inclusion, and against racism. Stand for embracing others, and against homophobia. Stand for love, and against hate. Stand for Jesus, and against Caesar. Do so with all your conviction, and we have seen it can move mountains.
But, what happens when we can’t have that parade? What happens when Jesus is walking down the street, and instead of being able to stand with him, you must stand at least 6 ft away to keep him, you, and your loved ones safe?I was struggling with this reading on Thursday. The banging noise in my head didn’t help. Was it the pipes? Was it my fridge? Was it my cat? Will someone knock that racket off!
It took me a solid minute to realize what was happening. At 7:30 each night, like many people across the country, the people in my condo, the condos and apartments across the street, and people throughout the area where clapping. They were banging pots with wooden spoons. They were blowing whistles and vuvuzelas; they were hooting and hollering. Like others, they were cheering front-line workers. Doctors, nurses, hospital techs. Cleaners and grocery store clerks. IT folk who keep us rich in wifi. Water treatment engineers and childcare workers for them all. Cheering all those on who are taking risks every day to keep life going. My neighbours were a parade of balconies.
It wasn’t a protest against the virus per se. Covid-19 does not care if you are brave or proud or scared. But it was a reminder that it is not just about an illness, it is that we are still working together in a society that is determined to go on. It was a rally, in support of life and love. A protest against giving up and giving in to racism, hatred, and anger. A rally for us to support and love one another, understand and appreciate the efforts that many in this city are doing, and our commitment to Love above all.