Christ Church Eureka California Sixth Sunday of Lent Palm\Passion Sunday The Liturgy of the Palms Luke

19:28-40, Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 The Liturgy of the Word Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 31:9-16, Philippians 2:5-11, Luke 23:1-49 March 28, 2010 The Rev. Ron W. Griffin “Palms to Passion”
Luke 23:1-49

The assembly of the elders of the people rose as a body and brought Jesus before Pilate.
They began to accuse him, saying, "We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king." Then Pilate asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" He answered, "You say so." Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, "I find no basis for an accusation against this man." But they were insistent and said, "He stirs up the people by teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place." When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he was under Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate. That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies. Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, "You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. I will therefore have him flogged and release him." Then they all shouted out together, "Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!" (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, "Crucify, crucify him!" A third time he said to them, "Why, what evil has he

done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him." But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished. As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.' Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us'; and to the hills, 'Cover us.' For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?" Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!" The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" There was also an inscription over him, "This is the King of the Jews." One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise." It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun's light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." Having said this, he breathed his last. When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, "Certainly this man was innocent." And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Good morning!

As we began the journey of Lent, just five weeks ago, Luke has been our narrator for most of this time and has painted for us in detail a mission in motion. Lent compresses 3 years of Jesus ministry in just 6 weeks. At the beginning, Jesus and the others had heard God say some pretty powerful words, “You are my son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.” Jesus hadn't yet been confronted by the Pharisees, questioned by the Sadducees, thought to be crazy by his family, chased out of his home-town synagogue, or arrested for the crime of treason. But after his baptism with barely having time to dry off, came the wilderness and testing. Then the challenges, the disappointments and the criticism, our Lenten journey has also emphasized in those weakened places there were also the friendships, miracles of generosity and the ever expanding circle of blessing. We have now arrived on this sixth Sunday of Lent in the midst of a parade. Since the great glory days of David and Solomon every Jew had dreamed of the time, when the new Messiah would come. When they would once again experience the thrill the excitement, and hope of dreams yet to be realized. Passover was a combination of religious excitement and political reality which made for some very anxious times as the Jews remembered their deliverance from an old oppressor the Egyptians. And Passover was a reminder they were still oppressed. Upwards of 2million by some estimates came each year, filling the streets, and every available space of the Holy City and making it a logistics crowd controlling nightmare for the civil leaders. So as Jesus arrived at on edge of the Holy City, approaching a well traveled path from the Mount of Olives the crowds, backing up, he was greeted by a multitude of disciples; those who knew about him or had met him, and had been following him and getting caught up in the spirit of the Passover party, a mix of celebration and celebrity developed as they waved their parade palms and welcomed the healer, teacher and prophet on to the carpet made with their coats. Palm Sunday lets us ease into Holy week as we join along with the disciples and the crowd. Also today all over the world people have gathered to begin Holy Week with Passion Sunday. Passion is not a word we use a lot in Church. In fact for some folks, they think passion is the last thing you would expect to find in a church. Hollywood is always defining their version of Passion. But as the Church has used the word for a long time, Passion is a Latin word which means to suffer, the enduring of difficulty. The editors of Biography Magazine asked Caroline Rhea a comedian, "What historical figure would you like to be?" She replied, "I've always admired Joan of Arc, so I'd say her, -but without the burning at the stake thing." I think all of us we would like to be thought of as a person of conviction, determination and strength like Joan of Arc, and conversely, who wants to be burned at the stake?

In Scott Peck's book, The Road Less Traveled, his first words are, "Life is difficult." The American psychiatrist went on to say, “This is a great truth, but most of us can't see it. Instead we moan more or less incessantly, noisily, or subtly, about the enormity of our problem. As if life is supposed to be easy for us, and therefore what has happened to us has never happens to anybody else before, at least not in this excruciatingly painful or insoluble way that it burdens us. Dr. Peck says that he wrote that not because as a therapist he heard his patients say that, but because he has been tempted to say that himself. He called it the "Law of Exceptionalism," the idea that this has never happened before, at least not to the degree that it has happened to me. Someone explained to me recently why they don't like Lent. They said, "I'm not into suffering" like it's an option. Life is difficult and yet we still holdout for life without the suffering, and consequences. Bruce Cockburn a Canadian artist sings, “Sometimes a wind comes out of nowhere and knocks you off your feet." When I was a little boy, I would visit my grandmother in Georgetown Kentucky. She lived on College Street, just across the street from Georgetown College. It was a small red brick two story house that I thought was a mansion, until I drove by it as an adult, years later. The house had a staircase at one end of the hallway that went to a door at the top of the stairs. Just beyond that door was an upstairs attic, where I loved to go play. Part of the attic was a room but most of it was just a large crawl space. Thinking back I would never let my children explore in an attic like that, but somehow I did. Times were different then I guess. I can still remember making my way through the narrow spaces, the heat in the summer, the glimmer of the dust in the shafts of light and the smell of old things. What I remember most about her attic though wasn't the stuff in boxes and trunks, it was the floor. Actually it was the lack of a floor. Narrow long boards had been laid on top of the rafters, planks leading to explorable places between the boxes and trunks. As I crawled from one board to the next, I could hear the adults downstairs. First over the kitchen, then to the back room the farthest journey took me to the parlor. The boards on those rafters became more like stepping stones the further I got from the doorway. The further the boards were apart from each other the bigger my steps had to be. As I placed my weight on each step, sometimes I would encounter weak places. I could feel it sag I heard the boards creek and crack. Missing a step meant putting my foot through the ceiling and possibly falling into the room below. I never did though I came close a few times. Today we are beginning a very important 8 days. We are stepping into Holy week, the Passion is ahead and it is narrowing our focus. Its in these times we all need the hand of the Holy Spirit to steady us, and help us, and to guide us past the weak spots. The Apostle Paul put it this way, "When I'm weak, then I'm strong." C. S. Lewis the English author wrote it this way, God whispers in our pleasures,

speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain". As the parade fades and the excitement shifts us to a somber place. As we recall where we have been and where we are and where we hope to go, from Palms to the Passion, be aware there will be weak places, but there will be miracles of generosity. Look for your mission in motion; reach out for the One who holds not only tomorrow, but holds us in the palm of his hand, for it’s in his Passion that Jesus becomes the strength for those who have no strength.

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