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This Week's Sermon !

March 29, 2015 - palm Sunday

Avon United

Psalm 118
Mark 11: 1-11

Something Wrong With This Picture?

Imagine, if you will, it’s the middle of this coming June and the snow is finally ALL gone. You’ve even mowed your lawn, once or twice. You take the day off and go to Truro to get some work done on your car and are out in the car dealer’s loaner, to do some shopping and you encounter a street closure because a parade has broken out! A parade! What parade? There was nothing in the paper yesterday to warn you; there was nothing on the news this morning!

But, there is no denying the excitement! The news of it’s impending arrival passes from smart phone to smart phone as the parade draws ever closer. It’s true! It must be true! It is happening, right here in Nova Scotia - the Toronto Maple Leafs, the recent Stanley Cup winners have decided to have a victory parade in the town of Truro, Nova Scotia. Truro is, of course, the hometown of #22 Zach Sill. The Leafs, is one of the “original six”, and only one team has won the right to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup more times than they have BUT, and it is a major but, they had not done so since our country turned 100, in 1967. Forty seven long years have come and gone since they won the biggest prize in hockey! Forty Seven long years! It’s time for a parade. Its time for it to all hang out and for people to celebrate this victory. Bring on the Leaf’s jerseys and the blue beer!

As we know there are no parades for the losers in pro sports, even if making it to the final games is a sign of a stupendous season. A planned “homecoming” parade for the Seatle Seahawks, who lost Superbowl XLXIX earlier this year was cancelled after much media attention, a lot of it negative, had been given the event.

If the truth be told. I am no sports fan, and would only go to such a parade if my nephew was on the winning team! But I’m holding my breath for him to make his pro- hockey debut! It is his 4th year in the “Q”! (QJMHL)

We are used to parades for special occasions - a town can have a parade to celebrate the local exhibition, or the arrival of Santa Claus, or, in Charlottetown’s case, a really BIG horse race. Then there are the short parades that are held on Remembrance Day in many Canadian villages and towns in which the legion, the police and the fire department march to the cenotaph to lay wreaths to commemorate the sacrifices of war.

If you want to get from Point A to Point B on that day though, parades can be very irritating. The streets are closed. There are people everywhere! There are usually tourists everywhere; people who don’t know where they are going; people who don’t know that this street is a short-cut or you can NEVER turn left at that corner! It’s as bad as the traffic jam after a fireworks display!

A number of years ago, when I was living in NB, after we saw the election results on TV we heard that our MLA, the NEW PREMIER, was going to grace us with his presence at the local curling club. Even though some assumed the event was only for card carrying party members, I went anyway. I was his minister, after all! As I went in the door I picked up a couple of balloon sticks and could cheer with the best of them when OUR MLA, the new PREMIER entered the building. His handlers did not let him stay long but he was there, we did see him, and people were thrilled. Some of those folks had known his whole family forever! But, as is the custom, and the expectation, he resigned as party leader when they lost the next election.

A few summers ago, when I was on the Island, the local MP invited me personally, along with a few thousand others, to a picnic at his house to meet JUSTIN Trudeau. One of my neighbours, a woman in her 60's, I think, was absolutely ecstatic when she managed to get his autograph. I shook hands with him but the thrill was quite momentary. I was more interested in seeing people I had not seen in a while.

Today, we came to church to see a parade. We hold a Palm Sunday parade of some sort every year! We get those special plants from the local florist and we wave them in the air, like silly children, or like people acting like silly children at a hockey game or a political rally.

Perhaps we came with the hope that the crazy new minister will not make everyone actually take part in the parade; that’s too childish for folks in their 60s, 70s and 80s!

One of the things we ministers are supposed to do today is to tell you the rest of the story of Holy Week because if you don’t come to the special services later this week, and only show up for Easter, you might forget that Jesus was betrayed, convicted and executed as a common criminal in the days between now and next Sunday - we are supposed to call it Palm- Passion Sunday (with passion meaning suffering and death, NOT the other meaning of passion!

But this passage, this week asks us to take a look around and make a kind of assessment. We are reviewing pictures of a crime scene and we are asking, “What is out of place here?”

What is out of place? First of all we have Jesus being hailed as the Messiah! The people were shouting Hosanna, which means “save us now”. They threw their coats on the ground for the donkey and the disciples to walk on. Both are signs of support. The people are ready to get behind him and to overthrow the oppressive Romans. That is what the Messiah is supposed to do and be; a religious political leader; a leader far better than King David had ever thought of being. Israel would be great once again! Their day was coming; it was here!

Yet, here Jesus is on a donkey - poor people rode donkeys. Powerful leaders rode fine horses. A political leader would only ride a donkey if he were coming in peace.

You know, if the people had been paying attention they would have realized that Jesus did not want to seize political power. They would have realized that Jesus wanted a different kind of world, different than the one in which “might was right” and the world in which the powerful were supposed to succeed.

In his short ministry Jesus talked about love. He talked about turning the other cheek. He spent time with the people in society who were outcastes and he did not curry favour with the rich or the powerful. I was reading something about a would be politician who did not “suffer fools gladly” and the comment of the reporter was this, “As we know, politicians have to suffer a lot of fools”. Jesus did not care about their money and their power and the importance they placed on statusand wealth. If anything, he saw these things as barriers to a good relationship with God God and with other people. He liked good food as much as the next person and liked to have a good time, but it seemed to him that those who were living for that and striving for that, at the expense of all else, were missing soemthing very important and they were in danger of losing their souls.

Many people go through the phase of hero worship - young people change the posters on their bedroom walls to reflect what is important in their lives and what they are looking for in life - beauty, money, six-pack abs, fast cars, monster trucks, etc etc. In the movie The Shawshank Redeption a wrongly incarerated Andy Dufresne gets a movie star poster from the prison black market and puts it on the wall of his cell. Over his 17 years in the State Prison Rita Hayworth is transformed into Marilyn Monroe and finally into Raquel Welch, What we don’t know, until the end of the movie, is that these posters do much more than satisfy his need to look at the female form, they hide his escape tunnel, dug inch by by painstaking inch, as he dug towarad freedom.

The question asked of us on Palm Sunday is: Why are we at this parade? Are we here because we were curious and got caught up in the excitement, more or less accidentally?

Are we here because we want Jesus to change the world and GET FOR US prosperity like we had in the good old days, when things were right with the world?

Or are we here because we have experienced the very power of God in his topsy-turvy kind of vision. We want for the world what he speaks of - justice for everyone, not just the ones who can “take it by force”. God’s love for everyine; not just the strong and the ones with the right views!

The real question is not: Where are we today and what are we doing, but the real quesion is, “Where will we be on Thursday and Friday when the others turn against him? Where will we be?

Come, join us for the journey.

1995- 2015 The Rev. Beth W. Johnston.





For some good stuff go to:
journeywithjesus.net-a weekly webzine for the global church
journeywithjesus.net

The United Church has a great online bookstore and here is the link. If you live in Canada they will even send you a book display for your event and people who dont get to see that many books at once can have a ball!


Links to My Other Pages at this Site

  • Sermon Ideas 4U Sermon Archive Site!
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  • The Kings United Pastoral Charge
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  • An Anniversary/Memorial Service Sermon
  • A Sermon for a "Covenanting Service"
  • Sermon on Teenage Suicide
  • Story Page (Called 'Q')
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