Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday B 2015                                               

March 29, 2015

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

We’ve just read through a lot of words.  It’s a long story, filled with suffering and betrayal, / abandonment, pain and depth of sorrow.  It brims with paradox.  And the odd thing is that the story of Jesus’ death on the cross, horrible as it is, // is absolutely central to the Christian faith, and has always been so.

Every year we read through the Passion of Jesus Christ, but hopefully it’s not just a reading.  Hopefully our feelings are aroused in many ways, and we get in touch with the tragedy of this innocent death and the depth of God’s love to be with us in life and also through and beyond death. 

Perhaps the hardest part of the reading for many people is when we’re asked to cry out, “Crucify him!  Crucify him!”  I know that always makes me really uncomfortable.  That’s probably because I know at some level that I could easily have been one of the people in that crowd doing the shouting.

Now, the story of the cross gives us both a mirror and a lens.

It’s a mirror because we can look and see ourselves in the actions of many of the people in the story:  the disciples, the authorities, the crowd.  We can see, if we allow it, our own resistance to the truth in our lives.  We can glimpse the betrayal we’re capable of; we can see ourselves as weak and half asleep, as self-protecting at the cost of truth.  We can see our tendency to desert our faith in Jesus when it demands too much of us.   And, mercifully, we can see that in our great imperfection and weakness, we’re loved anyway.

That’s what we might see through the mirror. 

And what might we see through the lens? 

We may see the love of God who came to walk the earth as a man, to teach and heal people, and also to die as a human would die.  We can see God submitting to misguided and even ungodly people who chose to silence his message // because it was becoming more and more uncomfortable.  We can see God traveling with us and showing us right now that there’s more to life than what we might see in front of us, and that there’s way more to death than what we perceive on this side of the veil.

And this long gospel account from Mark doesn’t leave us necessarily in the dark.  We can see glimmers of hope shine through.

We read near the end of the Passion that the women who were Jesus’ followers in Galilee accompany him at a distance.  At least, standing a ways off, they are there.  There is a member of the community, Joseph of Arimathea, who lays the body of Jesus in Joseph’s own tomb. 

Not everyone is a coward.  Not everyone is afraid to stay nearby. 

And everyone is loved despite the mistakes they are making.

So during this Holy Week, think about what role each of us may play in the passion of the Christ.  Which characters might each of us resemble, and why? 

And how will we live, going forward?  That’s the essential question.  How will we choose to live?