Sunday Service: 5th April 2020

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Sunday Service: 5th April 2020

St Andrew’s Scots Kirk, Colombo    Theme: Palm Sunday

Readings: Philippians 2.1-5 and Matthew 21. 1-11

What has Palm Sunday to say to a city under a stern curfew and a world which is in lockdown in many countries?

Prayer:  May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, our Rock and our Redeemer.

The reading is from Matthew Chapter 21 verses 1-11. It might be good to remind you that in Matthew’s gospel nearly all the key things which Jesus does have to be backed up from the Old Testament. This is to convinced the Jewish readers that Jesus is the Messiah and is quite different to the other gospel accounts.

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

21 When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.[a]” This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,

“Tell the daughter of Zion,
  Look, your king is coming to you,
  humble, and mounted on a donkey,
  and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd[b] spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,

   “Hosanna to the Son of David!
    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
   Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” This is the word of God. Amen

Sermon

What has Palm Sunday to say to a city under a stern curfew and a world which is in lockdown in many countries?

If you have your eyes and ears attuned, I think Jesus entry to the mighty capital is a symbolic feast and it says 3 simple things,

  1. Jesus is always a servant. Doesn’t he begin life in a borrowed stable and ends life buried in a borrowed grave?

He comes to his capital city Jerusalem as a humble peacemaker hence his chosen animal was not a mighty charger of a warrior king but a that most humble beast of burden – the donkey.     To remind you how fitting that match is between the rider and his mount. Let me read GK Chesterton’s ‘The Donkey’:

“The tattered outlaw of the earth,

Of ancient crooked will;

Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,

I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;

One far fierce hour and sweet:

There was a shout about my ears,

And palms before my feet.”

Jesus is the servant personified. – a servant’s animal with a consistent serving attitude. It Is not a weakness as some would suggest, far from it. The other recommended New Testament reading for today is from Philippians Chapter 2 and it makes this very clear,

“5 Let the same mind be in you that was[a] in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to the point of death—
    even death on a cross.”

Pont 2. Jesus famous as a healer, one who sorted the suffering of others by laying on his hands or a loving word, a command or even letting people touch the hem of his garment. He enters Jerusalem in the full knowledge that he is ready and willing to suffer. He has done nothing to deserve the distress that will come to him here.  As we walk behind him this week, if we are open to receive we will realise more and more of the depth of his love and his commitment to us.

The final point- concerns joy.  What a celebration!

The welcome that Jesus receives as He enters Jerusalem is the greatest celebration in the whole gospel story to this point, and, as one scholar, Karoline Lewis points out, “the waving of palms, the scattering of cloaks upon the ground, the shouts of ‘Hosanna’ are very public, unguarded and exposed expressions of belief.” Jesus is joyfully received by a large crowd with an extraordinary show of support as it could be dangerous to be seen supporting any new leader, never mind a Messiah!

So the question I leave you with in a curfew situation on this Palm Sunday is not about suffering, quite the reverse. An easier question on the day of Hosannas and waving and a joyful procession.

What are you going to celebrate in your life today? What are you going to celebrate with your one short and glorious life tomorrow, and in all your tomorrows?    

Thanks be to God Amen

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