Rev. George Miller
March 29, 2015
(This is a character sermon, given as an agricultural peasant in Jesus’ time).
The weather’s been grey for the last few days, unsure of what it wants to do. The mornings are dark and cloudy, with hints of rain.
Seems about right.
It’s as if the world is ready for something else; as if the old is dying to make room for the new.
Whatever it is, it’s got to be better that what we have now.
Things have been dreary. Things have been blah. Tired of work.
Tired of earning just enough for my daily bread. Tired of trying to pay my debts.
Tired of sidestepping all the evil I see.
Tired of paying all these dang taxes imposed upon us by the Roman kingdom.
Tired of being tired.
We could us a holiday. A celebration.
Thankfully, the season of Passover has come back around. That’s the time we recall how God delivered us from our enemies. That’s when we recall the plagues and miracles that led Pharaoh to letting us go.
Passover is the time we gather with family and friends to tell the story of how God heard our cries; how God sent us Moses, Aaron and Miriam so we could be free.
Free from the bondage; free from the fear. Free to cross the Red Sea.
Passover is a time of celebration. Folk we ain’t seen all year coming back to town to pay their respects and to worship at the Temple.
We sing songs, we tell stories of victory, we eat familiar foods.
Despite the rain and the grey, the clouds and the circumstances, we celebrate.
Of course, the news that thousands of Jews are descending upon the city don’t sit well with the Romans; they get a little scared; get a little jumpy.
They’ve done their best to beat us down, to take away our right to vote, to tax us relentlessly and to find new ways to steal our land.
But I tell you what- Rome may tax our land, Rome may tax our home, but Rome cannot own our heart, nor our soul.
Our eternal beings belong to the Lord.
So every Passover, as my kinfolk gather they wonder if that’s the year we’ll finally revolt and say “no more!”
This may be that year.
While Pilate, the roman governor entered the city from the west on his pompous steed flanked with armored warriors, another kind of King entered the east: a man we call Jesus.
Except instead of being rich, he’s a peasant.
Instead of living in a castle, he sleeps wherever his head can find rest.
Instead of caring about the top 10%, he cares about the entire 100%.
We’ve been hearing about Jesus for over a year now. How he’s like no one else.
-He stands up to the religious and political hypocrites who should know better.
-He sits and eats with regular folk, like me; like you.
-He brings healing to all, no matter if they are a servant, a soldier or a son.
Some say he embodies the wisdom of God. Some say he’s a reflection of God’s Love.
Others have gone as far as to say he is the Messiah- the leader we’ve all been waiting for to set us free from the grasp of Rome.
So when news go out that Jesus and his gang of merry men and female followers were coming into town for the Passover, we knew things were gonna get good.
Word was that Jesus was entering from the east, as a counter protest from Pilate. He was coming from the Mount of Olives, the place the prophets had once written about.
So we gathered to greet him; we gathered to cheer him on. Not the hoity toity 10% out to kiss Rome’s butt. Not the blue-bloods or the Rockefellers.
But folk; regular people. Those who worked the land. Those who weren’t afraid to get dirt under their nails.
Those struggling for their daily bread, those struggling with debts, those living in fear, those who were paying high taxes, and those who had mortgaged off their family land.
We gathered to celebrate the true Son of God who was going to change our lives forever.
It was a celebration, and ya’ll know what it’s like when people get together for a good time: things just happen, a spark of energy pervades the air.
I don’t know who, but someone began to sing “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Someone else sang out “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is the coming of David’s kingdom!”
“Hosanna! Hosanna!” they sang out, and it sounded just about yet, because “Hosanna” is just a fancy way of saying “Lord save us!”
That’s what we were singing “Lord- save us!”
For those living with hunger- “Hosanna!”, Lord-save us!
For those so in debt to the Roman kingdom we’re virtually slaves- “Hosanna!”, Lord-save us!
For those living with the affects of evil, blindness, deafness, lameness- “Hosanna!”- Lord, save us!
For those lost in the wilderness, for those in jail, for those ill, for those whose ship has gone down- “Hosanna!”, Lord, save us.
“Hosanna! Oh Hosanna” we sang.
Then the celebration really kicked in. Some began to take off their coats to place before the colt Jesus was riding.
It looked like the right thing to do for a man who seemed to bare the promise of giving us more then we could ever need.
But what was I to give? I had no coat to spare. I am not a rich man; I’m barely even a poor man.
I’m not the magi able to come forth bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. I’m not a drummer boy able to supply him with a song.
And I’m certainly not a beautiful broad with long, luscious hair that I can wash his feet.
So I looked to sky and I saw the palms that grew on the tree. How they were so abundant.
I thought of how the palms were like me, were like us- how they are hearty; they are able to endure. They are always there.
They can grow in the extreme heat. They can handle intense rain; they can the long, dry spells.
I ran over and clipped a palm branch off. It may not be silver, it may not be gold, it may not be a drummer boy’s song or hair that’s long, or wine or wisdom.
But it is something; and it’s green- the color of life.
And it’s alive.
So I ran onto into the road, in front of King Jesus, in front of his humble colt and I bowed and placed the palm branch down and I cried “Hosanna!”
Others followed suit; they climbed up the trees, they ran into the nearby field. They took what they could find- grass, straw, leaves, branches, whatever, and we laid them before the Lord.
We sang and we celebrated and for that brief moment we were One¬- you know, that feeling when anything is possible and the grey skies are gone forever.
…of course no grey sky is ever gone forever.
As Passover week continues, as we continue to welcome in old and familiar friends and faces, an odd air of uncertainty has slipped in.
You know how sometimes you can just tell something’s not right, even if you’re not entirely sure why?
That’s how things have been since that day.
After Jesus entered into Jerusalem and made his way to the Temple, there’s been buzzing on the street, and not the good kind.
Some have been saying how the Roman kingdom is more than upset at his teachings. Not to mention the religious leaders in the Temple ain’t been too happy with him.
There have been claims that Jesus is proving to be unruly; that he’s riling the masses; that he is showing signs of stirring things up.
And they don’t like it.
There’s word that the Romans are constructing a cross, a sure sign that they are scared, a sign that they feel the need to publicly shame and scorn someone.
Jesus isn’t helping matters.
One moment he’s teaching about love, the next he’s denouncing the scribes. One moment he’s pointing out the actions of a widow, the next he’s telling us the Temple will soon be destroyed.
That ain’t good.
The other night, at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came over and anointed Jesus just as one would a dead body.
It feels as if the songs of celebration have been silenced. It’s as if the hosannas of hope have made way to hopelessness.
Ominous clouds are forming; seems a storm is a brewing.
Darkness is in the air; something bad is bound to happen.
What does this all mean? What does the rest of the week hold? How will the events unfold? What’s next?
I don’t know; we don’t know.
Only God knows; only God knows.
Only the God who creates, who saves, and who redeems really knows.