Rev. George Miller
March 24, 2013
I have said before, and I will say many times again that most preachers have about three sermons in them that they give again and again.
I will also admit that at any given season we probably only have three themes as well. Food, no doubt, has been a constant theme; so have Disney and Broadway.
This has not been by accident.
Since I was a young colt of a kid, they were two of the things my father seemed to love. So I grew up believing that a dream is a wish your heart makes and that we all have the ability to fly.
I also grew up listening to the wit and wisdom, passion and plights of Professor Henry Higgins and Pippin, Eliza Doolittle and Evita, Guinevere and Don Quixote.
To dream the impossible dream…
Sadly, when my father died in 1995 I took those loves, those sources of life and light and tied them to a stake outside of my heart.
Too painful to see on a day to day basis, both Disney and Broadway were much easier left where I could visit from time to time, but not to have to always see them.
Then something unexpected happened when I came down here. Both reentered my life. Who would’ve thought that in a small, rural town, I would find a way to reenter a parade I had removed myself from for over 15 years?
These two loves of my father are once again two loves of mine, but now through different eyes.
Not the eyes of a child who naively believes second stars to the right and chasing windmills will make a better world, but through the eyes of an adult who understands that the world would be a much different, darker place if we didn’t hold in our heart the possibility that those things can indeed come true.
To put a spin on a popular poetic line, it is better to have dreamt and to lost then to never have dreamt at all…
One of Broadway’s beloved roles is the title character from “Hello Dolly.”
There is a scene from that play that is sure to make anyone tear up. Dolly has a “conversation” with her dearly departed husband Ephraim.
She confides in him that every night since he’s died, she locks her door, lets the cat out and says a prayer thanking God that she is independent.
But then she realizes she has become like the oak leaf she’s kept in her Bible: perfectly good but without color and life.
“For years,” Dolly says, “I have not shed one tear or been filled with the hope that something or other will turn out well.”
“I have decided to rejoin the human race.”
With those words, Dolly goes into a rousing number about getting her life back, moving with the rest and best of them, before the parade passes her by.
I speak of these things, because that’s what I see in today’s scripture. We have come to the day in the life of the church which we affectionately call Palm Sunday.
With it, we shout “Hosanna!” and we wave our palm branches. We shout “Hosanna!” and we lay down our cloaks.
We shout “Hosanna!” and we welcome the Lord. We shout “Hosanna!” because we believe in the dream of a better world.
But there is something that must take place before “Hosanna” can be shouted and palm branches can be waved.
What is it?
In order for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem, a colt, a humble donkey, has to be untied.
I wonder how many people have thought about this simple, little creature before. So often we focus on Jesus and the disciples, on the crowds and cloaks and palms and shouts.
But what about this lowly colt, this donkey?
Poor little fella, kept outside, tied to a pole, unable to move around, unable to go left or go right, move ahead, to frolic or to run.
Not used to its best advantage. Going nowhere…
…Until Jesus comes along…
There is a lot of theology going on in this scripture.
We could discuss the symbolism of what these events mean. We could talk about the political ramifications of calling Jesus “king.” We could talk about the prophecies being fulfilled.
We could spend the entire time dissecting who is saying what and how, and why Luke’s account is different then Mark’s.
But not today. Today we are simply just going to focus on the donkey, the colt.
Why? Because I feel of all the characters in today’s reading I can most relate to him. And if I feel that way, perhaps others do too.
I wonder how many here today have ever felt like they’ve been left on the outside?
How many have ever felt like they’ve been constrained, tied up or kept in place?
I wonder how many have ever felt like the parade has passed you by and due to life’s circumstances you were unable to participate?
How many have ever felt like there was something bigger, better, more in life then just standing in place, waiting?
Unsure what it was or what you were supposed to be doing, but knowing, just knowing, there was…more?
(To quote a line from another famous play, “Please sir, can I have some more?”)
Haven’t we all been like this donkey? Yes. More then once or twice in our lives? Yes and yes.
But here, in this story, that something more comes to pass. And it’s not fame or fortune, power or success. But it’s being used as an instrument for the Lord.
For when the donkey is untied and finally given freedom, it’s not for the ways of the world, but for the ways of the Lord.
It’s not for the betterment of the king, but for the continued revealing of God’s kingdom.
The donkey is loosed, untied, set free to be a participant in a parade of heavenly peace and glory.
And we can be too.
All of us here are full of possibilities, ripe with righteous gifts that we can give and we can share, we can do and we can be.
Each of us have the life and light inside of us that were present when we were born and will stay with us until we die.
Some have already discovered their gifts, others have yet to fully realize them, some have taken a peek but unsure of how to follow through.
Others are in need of faithful disciples who will come by and say “Why are you tied down, you are being called by Christ to be so much more!”
Each of us has gathered here today, we have come to worship God, and to praise God’s name.
And each of us are pregnant with possibilities ready to make God’s dreams come true and to be participants in the heavenly parade of peace and of light.
Today, may those possibilities by untied, today may we march along with Jesus, shouting “Hosanna!”, looking at the crowd up ahead and moving back in front.
God is calling all of us, in Christ we are all being untied, by the Holy Spirit we are being filled with color and light.
Amen and amen!