DATE: 29 March 2015
TO: Congregational Church of Weston
TITLE: Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday, Where is your Outrage?!

Call to Worship Inspired by Isaiah 50:4-9a
(No Answer: Service Prayers for Palm/Passion Sunday written by the Rev. Elsa A. Peters, 2014) One: Come. Come seeking words.
All: Come to let your tongue give praise.
One: Come. Come to find your voice.
All: Come to hear the response.
One: Come. Come to open your ears.
All: Come to listen.
One: Come. Come to be healed by the silence.
All: Come to stand together.
One: Come. Come to approach what words cannot describe.
All: Come to find God.

Prayer of Invocation
One: Come. Come O Holy One.
Come through the streets.
Come into the house.
Come to find a space beside us at the table.
Come to challenge our answers about
All: Why tragedy comes
Why poverty increases
Why we are afraid.
One: Come O Holy One.
Speak to us in the silence
All: With wisdom greater than ours
With love deeper than ours
With change wider than ours.

Shared Silence

One: Come O Holy One.
Fill in these stories
With your wisdom
With your love
With your change
So that we might rely on your answers.
Here and now.
All: Amen

Suggested Hymns
Hymn #216 “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” (The New Century Hymnal) Hymn #228 “Ruler of Life, We Crown You Now” (The New Century Hymnal)
Hymn #468, A Charge to Keep I Have, Charles Wesley (http://www.hymnary.org/media/fetch/138410)

Scripture Readings:
Palm Sunday (Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem)
Matthew 21: 1-11; Mark 11: 1-11; Luke 19: 28-40; John 12: 12-19
28 After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30 “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.” 35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. 37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”[b] “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” 40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” 41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it. Luke 19: 28-41 (NIV)

Overturn the Tables Monday (Jesus Goes to the Temple)
Matthew 21: 12-17; Mark 11: 15-19; Luke 19: 45-48; John 2: 13-22
13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”

47 Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. 48 Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words. John 2: 13-16 and Luke 19: 47-48 (NIV)

Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday, Where is your Outrage?!

Happy Sunday Church, today we are celebrating Palm Sunday!! I was going to ask if you know what the significance of today is, but seeing as how you are in church today I am going to assume you already know!!

You know that Palm Sunday we celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem… But have you ever thought of Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem as a planned political demonstration? Please let us bear together as I challenge what many of us, what I myself have been taught.

But I will start by talking about Palm Sunday. In today’s Luke reading, two things stood out to me:

As Jesus rode in on a borrowed donkey, the disciples and those who joined them cried out, “Peace in Heaven and Glory in the Highest” and the Pharisees, told Jesus to rebuke his disciples [could it have been for their worship] but here is the first thing that impressed me, Jesus says, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

That means that the noise was coming from the crowd that was WITH Jesus, and those who were inside Jerusalem were being real quiet. SILENCE. Some of us are silent when we are called to speak… Some of us are silent when God gave us a message to be preached/shared.

See the disciples; have been causing a ruckus, these disciples with their cries acted as stand-ins for the people of Jerusalem…because Jerusalem herself (and here I am speaking of the very stones that made up the city, the town) could not allow Jesus to walk in un-acknowledged. Imagine that.

There are some, who will stand in the gap and speak the words that are necessary. Be still my heart, as the disciples walked into the city they cried out the words that the inhabitants were unable to say, they cried out, “Hosanna!” I had been taught that Hosanna was an expression of adoration, a joyful noise of praise! But that is not quite right. According to Strong’s Concordance, Hosanna was originally a cry for help, as in “Lord save us, we can’t do this alone…”

So I ask you, what has God put into your heart that you are keeping silent?

The second thing that stood out for me is, “as Jesus approached Jerusalem, he WEPT”. It has taken me a long time to see tears as a means of cleansing, cleansing my heart, cleansing my spirit, cleansing. But these tears were a unique occurrence, you see, Jesus wept.

Those words occur only twice in the Bible (that I can remember), and they are used as short sermons in and of themselves. Jesus… wept when he reached Lazarus’ tomb, and some who saw him weep said, “see how he loved him” but while “In his humanity Jesus wept for Lazarus; [it is] in his divinity he raised him from the dead” (Pope Leo I).

Though many commentators suggest that Jesus wept out of love, could it be, that Jesus wept at seeing that even those who claimed to know him, those who walked with him did not understand, could not comprehend? That the same way Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha didn’t get it, was the same way that those in side the city just didn’t get it…They did not understand that Jesus was, is, and ever will be the way the truth and the light (John 11: 35).

But wait, there’s more.

Jesus has been on a journey. He has been walking in his destiny… he has been preparing his disciples for the end. Jesus knew that the end was near, and was not going to come easily. It was Passover (PUT THE TABLE OUT) , a Holy Jewish Feast that caused Jews from all over Israel to pilgrimage into Jerusalem to remember, to commemorate their freedom from slavery in Egypt during the days of Moses. Soldiers from all over the Roman state would make a show of force during this time. I have imagined that military processions would have been taking place!

Jesus, his followers, and the Gospel scribes would have known all of this.

Jesus and his followers, some would say, were a subversive group of people who walked and rode into Jerusalem at a time when they would be MOST conspicuous. See, Jesus entering into Jerusalem would have been a spectacle. If it was in modern days, he would have caused a traffic jam and the rubbernecking would go on and on!!!

Pilates military procession would have been all about pomp and circumstance, uniforms glistening, powerful! Jesus and his followers would have been sight to behold, a bunch of people from nowhere, wearing the rags they had been wearing all along their journey…two very different groups with very different messages. The Imperial Might vs the Kingdom of God! The Haves vs the Have Nots! Violence vs Love! Pilate vs Jesus. Two very different understandings of what reality could look like!

And that, I imagine played a role in getting my Savior to the cross. He was daring to be different. He was daring to speak up when others stayed quiet…as my fellow seminarian, Jason Tippit, shared with me late last night, “If you can’t be counted in, you can’t be counted on.” And Jesus, could be counted on!

In the grand scheme of things, today is only just the beginning of Jesus’ stepping into his calling as a savior in a more concrete way than ever before. Up to this point, Jesus had been preaching an uncomfortable message from outside…

(MOVE TO OVERTURN THE TABLE) But by entering into Jerusalem, he was BEING COUNTED IN. And the next day, when he entered the temple courts and OVERTURNED THE TABLES he became a bigger problem than ever before. By this one act, in a place that was already so problematic…Jesus became “Public Enemy #1.” Jesus proved that he could be counted on to speak uncomfortable truths, no matter what.

Today we celebrate his entrance into the city, but tomorrow we commemorate his having overturned the tables of injustice and oppression. No matter the outcome.

In some circles, there will people demonstrating on what we call: No Turning Back Monday or Turn the Tables Monday. And they will be talking about the things that God has called them to say. Their truth, no matter the outcome.

Some will be talking about The Environment! Some will be talking about Racism! Some will be talking about Economic Injustice! Some will be talking about LGBTQ! Some will be talking about how to be an ALLY! Some will be talking about Systems of Power and Oppression! WHAT WILL YOU BE TALKING ABOUT?

PAUSE TO GIVE others the opportunity to share, if they are so led….

Often times, we don’t speak these truths because we have never felt invited to do so. But today, today I invite you: what has God put in your heart that you have still left unsaid? I invite you to speak your truth… I INVITE YOU TO SPEAK That TRUTH… Where is your outrage?

Remember that if you don’t, someone else will have to. If you feel called to speak, keep in mind that after church today we will be having a Pancake Brunch consider that an open invitation to share your message in a safe environment.

Benediction:
Please remain seated through our unconventional Benediction and Postlude:

To: President John F. Kennedy, The White House
From: Abraham Joshua Heschel
RE: Moral Grandeur & Spiritual Audacity
Dated: June 16, 1963

(sent as a telegraph)

I look forward to privilege of being present at meeting tomorrow at 4 p.m. Likelihood exists that negro problem will be like the weather everybody talks about it but nobody does anything about it. Please demand of religious leaders personal involvement not just solemn declaration. We forfeit the right to worship god as long as we continue to humiliate Negroes. Churches synagogues have failed. They must repent. Ask of religious leaders to call for national repentance and personal sacrifice. Let religious leaders donate one month’s salary toward fund for Negro housing and education. I propose that you Mr. President declare state of moral emergency. A marshal plan for aid to Negroes is becoming a necessity. The hour calls for high moral grandeur and spiritual audacity.

This was a call to action… And things, have not yet gotten better… Today God, we need a call to action on so many issues give us the words to be today’s change agents.

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