What's the Point of Practice? (Part 2)
Resurrection of the Lord, Year C

Sixth Sunday in Lent - Year C

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29  •  Luke 19:28-40
Liturgy of the Palms

On the Sunday that begins "holy week," we mark first the events of Jesus' triumphant ride into Jerusalem.  This is a manic Sunday in the Christian year.  If you close your eyes and imagine the dynamic - the joyous followers, the worried local politicians and officials, the priests threatened by Jesus' teaching and by the pressure of distant powers in Rome - you can hear the mixed murmuring that might have occurred. 

"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna."
"We must see that he takes this no further."
"It will be the ruin of the Jewish people."
"This Jesus must die."
"What harm?"
"Keep the people quiet.  We'll have a riot on our hands."
"Like John before him..."
"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord"

It's all brewing just under the surface.  For those of us who grew up in churches waving palms and singing praise songs on Palm Sunday, a deeper understanding of the events of the ride into Jerusalem are now unsettling.  Perhaps because we hear it in our own world.  Our own manic confusion about what is good and what is bad, what is wrong and what is true, what is harmful and what is helpful. Who we think we are and who God has created us to be. Individual liberties and justice for all.  Who we are and who we hope to be.  Our world or God's Kingdom.

This is the trouble brewing.  Hosanna! Crucify him! Hosanna!  Crucify him!

Isaiah 50:4-9a  •  Psalm 31:9-16  •  Philippians 2:5-11  •  Luke 22:14-23:56 or Luke 23:1-49
Liturgy of the Passion

You do not have to listen to a newscast or a "news show" or read very far in a newspaper to see or hear one person labeling another.


And usually when someone is slinging a label around, they are not trying to improve the status of the other person.

Conservative. Liberal. American. Terrorist. Malcontent. Troublemaker. Wealthy. Poor. Disconnected. Stupid. Uncaring. Marxist. Cranky. Crotchety. Un-american. Etc.

Now why do we do this? And don't fool yourself....we ALL do this. But why?

Is it fun?

Does it make me feel better?
Does it increase my social/professional/political capital?
Does it stop global warming?

Why are we so quick to label and dismiss folks we don't like or don't agree with?

And once you have labeled someone, what does it take for you to Un-label them?

Well, since both of us are closer to being theologians than we are to being sociologists or psychologists, let's look at the primary text this week and see what we can infer from there.

If you have spent much time around Christianity, you know this story. It is the end of Jesus's life. He makes his last trip in to Jerusalem, he gives some final instructions to his disciples, he gets arrested by chief priests and scribes and officers of the temple police (mostly Jewish leaders),  Pilate (a Roman authority) attempts to release him, folks wanted him killed, and the last part of this passage shows Jesus being beaten and killed between two other criminals and then his body is taken away to a tomb.

There are many other details in this passage....it is a full two chapters of details.

But the question we want to think about a bit is why Jesus had so much anger directed toward him.

So....why do you think?

As we read in the passage, he is brought before and tried before a council of Jews who were looking to find fault with him. It appears that by the time he got here, he had already been labeled as a Liar and a Troublemaker and One Who Should Not Be Trusted. They passed their judgment on him and then he was tried by a couple of Romans with some authority (Pilate and Herod) and they found no guilt in him.  But neither did they feel great need to set any records straight...

And the Jewish leaders kept on pushing. Somehow, in their minds, Jesus had crossed a line that could not be uncrossed.

What are the issues, the choices, the threats we encounter today that set us in our ways, our decisions, our convictions?  Something had solidified with the priesthood in Jerusalem - something about Jesus' teaching, his reach, his inclusiveness, his mercy, his power - something made it impossible for his life and his work to continue.  Some risk was too great.  Have you felt your heart harden against someone or something in that way?  No turning back.

And we return to the why?
Is it fun?
Does it make me feel better?
Does it increase my social/professional/political capital?
Does it stop global warming?

Stop me in my tracks
and soften my grip
on control and disdain.
Give me ears to hear,
hands to touch,
and a heart to feel
for this broken place
of life. 
Where I see anger,
let me sow peace.
Where I see suffering,
let me sow comfort.
Where I seek to polarize,
cause me to reach out instead.
Where I hear
in many directions,
guide my voice
to harmonize.

© matt & laura norvell 2010 www.settingourstones.org
we want to share this with you and hope you'll share with the world;
we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words.
May Grace & Peace be with you.


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