Palm Sunday

April 14, 2019

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.

I consider myself to be a bit of a news junky!  When I am able, I usually watch BBC news at 5:30 on PBS, ABC news at 6:30, and NHK news from Japan at 7:00. 

One of the things that I have noticed and has concerned me is that the news at 6:30 it seems to be very focused on America.  What particularly disturbs me is when a story about some sort of disaster is reported in another part of the world, and the news presenter will say, “6 Americans were injured”.  It seems as if that needs to be said so that we know we are to care about it.

It seems as if we as Americans are given the message that what is important is what is happening here or what affects us.  We live in an increasingly interconnected world, and what happens to people in other places does affect us – even if indirectly. 

By now you may be sitting there wondering why it is that in the beginning of Holy Week, after reading the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ that I am talking about the news.  Let me make the connection.

From our perspective, the events of Holy Week are the most important events to have ever happened in the history of the world.  Perhaps you may think that that is overly dramatic, but think about it.  We are talking about the salvation of the world.  We are talking about the events that lead to the death and resurrection of the Incarnate Son of God.

But think about these events as they unfolded in the time in which Jesus lived.  Jesus was seen as an itinerate rabbi who was causing problems for the established order.  These events were happening at one of the furtherest edges of the Roman Empire.

If you look at a map, Jerusalem is a long way from Rome.  The Roman Empire stretched for most of the known world of the time.  Pontius Pilate represented this Empire.  He had a lot to concern himself about when the local Jewish leadership sent him this Rabbi.

Quite frankly, Pilate may have found this to be a nuisance that he wanted to get rid of.  He offers to free Jesus.  He washes his hands of the whole ordeal.  Little did he know that the decisions that he made and the itinerate Rabbi before him would be talked about two thousand years later.

Much like our culture, if it did not affect the Empire, the people could care less.   But that is not what we promise to do in our baptismal covenant.  Remember these questions (which we will be re-affirming at the Easter Vigil):

“Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?  Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?  Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”

Or as we will pray during the solemn collects on Good  Friday:

“Let us pray for all who suffer and are afflicted in body or in mind;  For the hungry and the homeless, the destitute and the oppressed;  For the sick, the wounded, and the crippled ; For those in loneliness, fear, and anguish; For those who face temptation, doubt, and despair; For the sorrowful and bereaved;  For prisoners and captives, and those in mortal danger; That God in his mercy will comfort and relieve them, and grant them the knowledge of his love, and stir up in us the will and patience to minister to their needs.”

And the words which invite us to the Foot Washing on Maundy Thursday:

“The Lord Jesus, after he had supped with his disciples and had washed their feet, said to them, ‘Do you know what I, your Lord and Master, have done to you? I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done.’ …I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you. …By this shall the world know that you are my disciples: That you have love for one another.  … Peace is my last gift to you, my own peace I now leave with you; peace which the world cannot give, I give to you.”

We will spend most of this week walking with Jesus through the events which lead to our redemption.  In the midst of this week, though, I hope that we can also remember that Jesus died not just for us, not just for Americans, not just for people like us.  Jesus died for the whole world.  And because He died for the whole world, we, as His followers, are called to look beyond ourselves and care. AMEN.