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Homilies from Nola Crewe
Palm Sunday 2015


Bless my lips with Your message. 
AMEN 

 

It is not Advent, in which I count down the days.  It is Lent when winter seems eternal and warmth seems to have left the earth.  But we are now into the home stretch.  Easter is on the horizon:  only Holy Week to go:  palms and stripping of the altar; Maundy Thursday; the grief and despair of Good Friday; the silence of Holy Saturday. 

Then come the glories of Easter morn with the Easter Egg hunt and gourging on all the goodies people were deprived of through fat-free or tee-totaling Lent.   

 It is always a busy week.    Drying and decorating eggs.  A major house cleaning.  A new Easter outfit or bonnet.  Planning for the big family get-together with ham or lamb or whatever family tradition dictates.    Easter means we can start planning the annual yard clean-up and what we will plant.  It is a time to go through our wardrobe, cleaning and pressing and putting away the winter clothes that we are SO tired of and getting out the Spring and summer things that seem so bright and new once more:  although that may be a bit too optimistic for this winter with Thursday’s snow and to-day’s cold. 

But before we get too caught up in next Sunday, we have this Sunday. The Sunday when we get to wave about palms and shout HALLELUJAH!!!    

That first Palm Sunday was a day of such promise . . . Christ having attracted so many followers . . .  so many disciples . . . so much interest in His message . . . so much curiosity and the people’s desire to be with the rising star. 

We can only imagine how it felt that day to Christ's followers . . .  he rides into the city on the back of that donkey colt:  the Old Testament's promises fulfilled . . .  the triumphant entry . . . their day of glory. 

 I remember when Elvis Presley came to Toronto . . . we all yelled ourselves hoarse at Maple Leaf Gardens.  We were the most “IN” group in the whole world.  We were there to see our “King” – the King of Rock and Roll.  Not that we heard one word of his singing:  it was all drowned out with our screaming.  We loved being with him and we loved being with others who shared our passion.  We felt so much a part of something so much bigger than we were . . . so much bigger and being a  part of his fan club everywhere.   

I imagine it felt something like that in Jerusalem that day.  The streets lined with people crying out his name.  Waving palms . . . throwing their cloaks before him . . . joyous at merely being in His presence. 

But this great day of triumph was followed by a very different week.  One in which those who had cheered Jesus on as He rode into the city also condemned him a mere four days later. 

The voices that had been raised in praise, degenerated into voices demanding freedom for Barabbas, the thief over Jesus . . . voices raised in demands for His death. 

Those who had professed their love of the popular rabbi and who had given Him their loyalty:  became those who abandoned him, denied him, and betrayed him. 

 And if you want to know who did that, just look at the palm branches in our hands.  Are we that much different from those of the past? 

 Because, like it or not, we still abandon Christ to-day. We hear His Word and we want to follow Him but we are human and weak and fallible.    

 And our betrayal of Him continues, in ways large and small. 

 How often do we praise God on Sunday…and leave Him behind as we exit the Church?  

And, let’s admit it . . . don’t you sometimes just find Christian life tiresome?

How often do we turn our back on what we know is right when things become too difficult to do the right thing? 

I mean, really, there are an awful lot of unlovable people in this world!

 And, how often do we talk about love . . . rather than live it? 

 Or we treat love as a fine, sweet, sentiment for a Mother’s Day greeting cards . . . . but come on . . .  a COMMANDMENT for living? 

 How often do we see suffering in the faces of those in need, and simply hurry on our way? 

 Even though we recall Christ’s words. . .  “Whatever you do to the least of these”, he said, “you do to me.” 

How do you answer that?  

Whether we realize it or not, we see Jesus every day, read about him in the papers, hear about him in the news. He is everywhere there is someone who is neglected, or disrespected, or discarded. He is with the unwanted and unloved, the bullied and abused. 

 Do we hear Him? 

 Do we notice Him?  I think that our indifference comes in part from the malaise of city life:  we don't know our neighbour.  We don't know the hundreds of faces that we pass on our busy streets.  We work with people whose names we don't even know.  Our children attend schools with children whose homes and families are strangers to us.  We buy our groceries with thousands of others and never say "hello".  We are so busy "minding our own business", that we forget that those whose path we cross ARE our business. 

 We know more about the families of strangers that are related on TV about the latest plane crash or kidnapping or Hollywood scandal than we do about the people living on our own street.   

 Sometimes it feels like the only way to survive when we live among so many other people.  We find ways to justify our choices. But it can’t be denied. Whenever we choose to turn our backs on others, we are turning away from the life-giving teachings of our Saviour. 

 As we wave our palms too-day, celebrating the triumph of belief . . . let us recommit ourselves to trying a bit harder, celebrating his life a bit more by living the life that sets one free and gives joy to our days.  That is what we want to remember this Sunday. 

 And we need these palms as a reminder – and a challenge. 

 They remind us that we are called to be heralds of Christ – to celebrate him the way they did that day in the streets of Jerusalem. 

 And these palms challenge us to keep crying “Hosanna,” to keep proclaiming the Good News – even when the world tempts us to do otherwise, even when it seems like it would be easier to go with the crowd and simply choose Barabbas. 

 These palms challenge us to NOT turn our back and walk away. And they challenge us not only to remember what we have done to Him, but what He has done for us. 

That is what this week is about. 

Before we look ahead to next Sunday, and the big plans and the big meal, look back. And look within. 

 And look to these palms. 

 Look at what we are called to do…and who we are called to be. 

 And do not just look at it or hear about it:  the Christian life is about doing it! 

 We all know what we are called to do and be . . . so reach out a hand for your neighbour.  Share what you have with others.  Make Christ’s love for all known in the world in the way you treat others . . . and let us lift our palms in the air, knowing that while we stumble and fall, Christ, too, stumbled and fell on the way to Calvary . . . but just as he rose to meet His destiny, so too must we rise and learn from our mistakes, knowing that we are following in Christ's footsteps and that as we continue on to life’s end as a lover of Christ, the promise, that death cannot claim us, is our eternal reward.   And He has gone before us to open the Gate . . .
 

So may it be. 

 

AMEN 


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