Palm Sunday sermon notes

28 Mar

Luke 19:29-40
Isaiah 50:4-9a
Philippians 2:5-11

See the New York City high rise
Dozens and dozens of big, open windows

Down below
Commuters are off to the races
Starting before the light says “walk”
And continuing to walk with the “don’t walk” light comes on

Then there are taxi drivers are cutting each other off
Blaring their horns
Issuing obscene gestures

Everyone is on the move
Move, move, move
Hurry, hurry, hurry
Got to get “there”
No time to waste

Meanwhile, in their frenzy to get “there”
Whatever “there” is
They are missing out on life
Because the present is a Present
Each and every moment is a gift
But if you are in a hurry to get there
You miss the Present in the present

Into this situation
A director named Charlie emailed his agent-friends
And 58 agent-friends responded
He told the agents to meet him by a public park near the high rise
Charlie said- Be sure to wear black shirts and black pants

So everyone met at the park at the predetermined time
A little before dusk
On a mild evening
And director Charlie gave the agents instructions

58 agents wearing black shirts and black pants
58 agents instructed to enter the high rise
To stand in front of 58 separate windows
Visible to the pedestrians and traffic below
And from below
Director Charlie would led them through their “routine”

58 people standing
58 people waving
58 people doing jumping jacks
58 people dancing
57 people pointing to 1 solo dancer
57 people pointing to another solo dancer
Then 10 people holding up huge letters
The letters announced- Look up more

Down below- as you can imagine- people noticed
Something weird
Something wild
Something wacky

Only a few looked up at first
But then gradually more and more were wondering-
What is going on? This is wicked! What’s happening?
All of a sudden- pedestrians- taxi drivers- taxi passengers
were receiving a Present in the present

Everyone stopped rushing to get “there”
Out came the digital cameras
Out came the cell phones- the word spread quickly
About the 58 people working in sync

As quickly as it began, just as quickly it seemed to end
The 58 window people disappeared for 10 seconds
All 58 vanished- as per director Charlie’s instructions
Then after another 10 seconds
They got up and danced again- 1 more time
When the dance was over- the 10 posted their 10 letters-
Look up more!
Then they were gone
The New York City pedestrian audience realized the show was over
There would be no more encores
So they applauded and cheered- bravo!

If “Charlie the director” had said in words “look up more”
It would have gone in 1 ear and out the other.
But directing and implementing
the black shirts and black pants demonstration
made for an unforgettable event.
Not one person who witnessed the 58 window people do their thing
will ever forget the lesson
to “look up more”

2,000 years ago- Governor Pilate led
what he hoped would be
an unforgettable demonstration
He started the demonstration at his sea side headquarters
And the demonstration lasted for 60 miles
And it ended as he entered Jerusalem from the west

The parade consisted of Pilate
all decked out in his Roman Empire “don’t mess with us” outfit
Marching behind him- soldiers, chariots, armored divisions
Behind him- swords, spears, and stallions
It was meant to be a demonstration announcing-
Don’t mess with us!
The Roman Emperor is Lord
The Roman Emperor is divine
Resistance is futile
Obey the Emperor or face the consequences

[point to the cross]

Pilate, as the Emperor’s representative,
could have sent out kids with flyers
door to door
to deliver the message
Post flyers in windows and on doors
But this “don’t mess with us” parade was meant to be unforgettable

Meanwhile, as Pilate’s demonstration was going on,
Jesus led counter demonstration
It was happening on the other side of town
At the approximately the same time
that Pilate entered from the west
Jesus entered Jerusalem from the east

Yet, instead of riding a stallion, Jesus rode a donkey
And this particular donkey had never been ridden
Before carrying Jesus, this donkey
hauled hay and transported trash
This animal carried junk, but never, ever a human being

We know this story
It is familiar
The palm branches
The coats thrown onto the ground
The cut leaves lining the city streets

From the west, the streets were paved
From the east, the streets were muddy and full of pot holes
It was a mess
So the branches, coats, and leaves
transformed the mess into the “royal carpet treatment”

People shouted-
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord
Hosanna in the highest

From the east- Jesus led a messy, motley parade into the city
This demonstration was Jesus announcing-
I am the true King
I am the Ultimate Present in the present

Yet Jesus, unlike Pilate, had
no weapons, no soldiers, no stallions, no armor
He did not threaten or intimidate
There was no use of force or suggestion of violence
Jesus was simply the King, the very Present of God in the present
But what kind of a King was he?
What kind of a God was this?
To find out—you have to follow
all the other demonstrations in Holy week


Demonstration #1= the Hosanna Parade

Demonstration #2 = Jesus shut down business in the Temple
My Temple is to be a house of prayer for everyone- for all peoples
Everyone everywhere is welcome

Demonstration #3= Jesus washed the feet of his disciples
(all of the disciples! Judas, too!)
Jesus performed the work of a slave
Love one another as I have loved you
I have washed your feet
I acted out love in service
I command you: this is what you are to do, too

Demonstration #4= broken bread and poured out wine
This is my Body, broken for you
This is my Blood, shed for you

This demonstration says:
I am the God who sacrifices His own blood for you
I do not demand the blood of any animal or human being
to earn my love
I give my Blood as a gift, establishing my love for you

Demonstration #5= the cross
The Ultimate Demonstration= the cross
The Roman meaning of the demonstration= obey us or else
God’s meaning of the demonstration= I forgive you, period
I love you, period

Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week
This day kicks off a week full of demonstrations, so…
Look up more—see your God—hanging from the tree
Pouring out his life for you
Receive your God, the true Present in the present
Available right here, right now- look…up… more!!!

[***for clip of “look up more” see]


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