Saturday, March 23, 2013

palms and passions

Palm Sunday 2013 

How are we at welcoming Jesus? How are we at being welcomed by Jesus? For it is Jesus who is hosting us today. He is host of the Royal Banquet, the Last Supper, and the Paschal Feast.

What does it feel like to come to his table after hearing this gospel today?

(Imagine what it would be like if you were one of the people in the story.)

A number of times here I have preached at funerals on “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” And I have assured you that he is the way: that he was there for you, with you at your beginning, he will be there with you at the end, he is there with you always, and he will be there with you at the hour of your death.

When we suffer loss or grief, or face the prospect of the hour of our death, Jesus says, in effect, “I’ll walk you all the way through.” I will be with you.

He will be with you on this side of the veil and at the other end of the road. He is there always for you. And yet, who was there to see him through?

Who walks him through? Who walks with him through this horrible time?

In his fascination, his terrible fascination, Peter comes closest – close to the fire but afraid to get burned, close enough only to warm himself, and betray himself and be recognized.

And the Lord had said to him, at the table, Look, Peter, you are going to abandon me. You are going to fail and fall short. But my Father and I will not abandon you. You will recover – you will come to yourself – and come back, and when you do, look to these other ones, make sure they’re okay, help them pull out of it. (And after the Ascension we learn that he does.)

“Strengthen your brothers.” You who are weak, and fallible, yourself. You, who know what it means to fail, to betray, to feel a longing to be true to me again.

What does it mean to us the to come to this table after that, after hearing that? We like Peter are frail of character, of virtue, easily frightened away.

“Fear is all around,” as the Psalmist says, and yet – One is faithful, one in whom we can put our trust: “My times are in your hand.”

We are fallible, frail, and undependable. And he is faithful.

How does it feel to come to the table after you hear this gospel?

Call is still there. Challenge to be in the Lord’s service, to proclaim his death until he comes, even though we know we are among the betrayers. The fallible ones who let him down. We don’t mean to – but we do.

And yet we are forgiven.

And we are welcome at his table.


Who am I in this story?

Imagine yourself in this story, in this place.

Member of the crowd. Servant, one of the people in the courtyard of the high priest, warming your self at the fire. Soldier. Centurion. Thief. Executioner. Peter... Yourself.

The Liturgy of the Palms, Luke 19:28-40, Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29;
The Liturgy of the Word, Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11,Luke 22:14-23:56, 

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