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Sermon - There is Another Way (Apr. 17, 2011)

Sermon - There is Another Way (Apr. 17, 2011)

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Published by Eric Ledermann
Based on Matthew 21.1-11, Jesus' entry into Jerusalem.
Based on Matthew 21.1-11, Jesus' entry into Jerusalem.

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: Eric Ledermann on Apr 21, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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03/05/2014

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© 2011 The Rev. Eric O. Ledermann, San Bernardino, CA. All rights reserved.
“There Is Another Way”
By the Rev. Eric O. LedermannApril 17, 2011 – Palm SundayFirst Presbyterian Church, San Bernardino, CA
Matthew 21.1-11 (NRSV)
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When they had come near Jerusalem and had reachedBethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples,
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saying tothem, “Go into the village aheadof you, and immediately you willfind a donkey tied, and a colt withher; untie them and bring them tome.
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If anyone says anything toyou, just say this, ‘The Lord needsthem.’ And he will send themimmediately.”
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This took place tofulfill what had been spokenthrough the prophet, saying,
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“Tellthe daughter of Zion, Look, yourking is coming to you, humble,and mounted on a donkey, and ona colt, the foal of a donkey.”
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Thedisciples went and did as Jesus haddirected them;
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they brought thedonkey and the colt, and put theircloaks on them, and he sat onthem.
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A very large crowd spreadtheir cloaks on the road, andothers cut branches from the treesand spread them on the road.
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Thecrowds that went ahead of himand that followed were shouting,“Hosanna to the Son of David!Blessed is the one who comes inthe name of the Lord! Hosanna inthe highest heaven!”
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When heentered Jerusalem, the whole citywas in turmoil, asking, “Who isthis?”
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The crowds were saying,“This is the prophet Jesus fromNazareth in Galilee.”
 We have a large poster of Martin Luther King, Jr. on our family room wall with a quotefrom him that says: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hatecannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” In the same vein, next to Martin LutherKing, Jr., is a similar sized poster of Mahatma Gandhi with this quote: “An eye for an eyewill only make the whole world blind.” As I read this text about Jesus riding a donkey, Ican’t help but see how Jesus always did the unexpected, the opposite it would seem. Hepoked holes at our social armor by turning our standards upside down. Jesus rode on a donkey to show there is another way. Jesus rode on a donkey to showGod’s hope for a peaceful humanity, that we can learn to be humble, learn to be gracious,learn God’s non-violent ways. God has given us free-will—the freedom to care, thefreedom to love, the freedom to believe. But with free-will also comes the freedom tohoard wealth, the freedom to kill, and the freedom to choose how we will live our lives.
 
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© 2011 The Rev. Eric O. Ledermann, San Bernardino, CA. All rights reserved.
We all individually have the freedom to shape our individual lives, and thereby
influence
the lives of those around us. When we choose greed over grace, others will tend towardprotecting themselves and their families, making sure what they have does not get taken.I’ve heard it said: “The more one has, the more one has to protect.” Our homes becomemore than places where we live and sleep, but fortresses to protect us from the outsideand others who want to take what we have. As resources become scarce in a societybased on “The person with the most toys wins!”, taking and getting become thewatchwords—taking what I deserve, getting what is owed to me. We are living in asocket that increasingly sees kindness as a sign of weakness. We are hearing rally crieseverywhere from the city streets all the way up to our nation’s congressional chambers—let the poor help themselves, lets end these handouts and welfare systems that are drainingour economy (an economy in which the disparity between rich and poor has more thandoubled in the last 40 years, in which 49% of the income generated is being received byonly 20% of the population, and those living under the poverty line receive less than3.5%, a ratio of 14.5 to 1, compared to less than 8 to 1 in 1968, and in recent years seemsto be widening at a faster and faster rate).
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 The problem with this self-perpetuating system is there will never be a time wheneveryone will feel they have what they deserve. It’s a terrible race to a finish line thatdoes not exist. Have you ever pulled a dangling piece of yarn from a sock or a sweater?You keep pulling, and eventually the yarn comes out faster and faster, and the integrity of the garment erodes at an almost exponential rate. Greed breeds more greed; violencebreeds more violence; standards become eroded and the fabric of society unravels fasterand faster and eventually loses its integrity altogether.
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Income ratio of 14.5-to-1 according to 2010 census nearly doubles 1968's low of 7.69[http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2010/09/28/us_census_recession_s_impact_1].
 
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© 2011 The Rev. Eric O. Ledermann, San Bernardino, CA. All rights reserved.
There have been momentary lapses in our natural human inclinations for wealth, power,and violence. There have been moments in history when war and violence did notreign—when our selfish greed and obsession with self-preservation did not consume ourevery thought. These are the moments when the prophets fell silent. These are themoments when the social connection of God’s children was lived out in relative harmony,and the community had the will and ability to harness its collective integrity to hold oneanother accountable in love and grace. These are the standards upon which the Christiancommunity was founded…look them up in the Book of Acts: “All who believed weretogether and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods anddistribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.”We are called to a higher standard, aren’t we? Our Lord came to serve, not be served,and in so doing set a standard of serving others, not being served; a standard of giving, nottaking. Our Lord came to heal the suffering, give hope to the hopeless, and give strengthto the weak. Jesus came to, once again, show another way, and every Sunday we gatherto share in that vision, to learn how to live by his example, to welcome the overpoweringlove of God into our souls, and leave this space transformed by God’s grace—we arecalled to leave here blessed by a loving God in order to be a blessing to the world.There is another way. In the first century, adherents to this way called it “THE WAY”; theway of Jesus of Nazareth, the son of God, the savior, the Messiah. Jesus came to save usfrom ourselves! How? By teaching us about how our tendencies toward self-preservationare actually destroying us. By reaching out to the poor who are so often used as anexample for everything that is wrong in our world, upon who’s backs the wealthy becomewealthier, who, when it is convenient, are used by some to help them feel better aboutthemselves because they put a quarter in someone’s cup. And to show this “way,” Jesusthe healer, Jesus the lover, Jesus the hope-giver, Jesus the revolutionary, Jesus the allpowerful, made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. To show his commitment

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