Palm Sunday, year B, 2015 (preached March 29, 2015)
first reading: Isaiah 50:4-9a
second reading: Philippians 2:5-11
gospel reading: Mark 14:1-15:47
procession with palms reading: Mark 11:1-11
*Palm Sunday is a bit different than a “regular” Sunday. On Palm Sunday we read the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but we also read the whole story of the passion. As a result the sermon is considerably shorter, (at least in my congregation), to keep the worship service at an acceptable length – also because who needs to hear my voice so much!
For raw honesty, the book of Psalms probably wins the prize. I love the Psalms. There’s no sugarcoating, no pretending, no putting our best foot forward in the Psalms. Life is either wonderful and so we praise God, or life is awful and we shake our fist at heaven and ask for help.
Listen again to our psalm for this morning:
“my eye is consumed with sorrow, and also my throat and my belly. For my life is wasted with grief, and my years with sighing, my strength fails me because of my affliction, and my bones are consumed. I am the scorn of my enemies, a disgrace to my neighbors… when they see me in the street they avoid me. Like the dead I am forgotten, out of mind; I am as useless as a broken pot… fear is all around… they plot to take my life.”
Wow. So tell me how you really feel! This is no mere bad day. This person is truly suffering.
I’m sure each one of us here has gone through periods in our lives where we have felt just like this psalm writer. Feeling weighed down both literally and figuratively. Our bodies holding physical ailments and/or depression. Feeling like our friends are even backing away from us cause we’re such a mess. We look around and don’t see any signs things will get better.
The image of the broken pot is one of my absolute favorites. That’s what the psalm writer feels like, that’s what we feel like at times – and indeed that’s what we ARE. Not only life circumstances, but the reality of our sin causes us to be broken.
No matter how hard we try, life is unfair. No matter how good we are, perfection is impossible. No matter how faithful we are, we are still saint and sinner. We are broken pots. And broken pots are useless. Beyond repair, they have lost their purpose.
The only thing we can do with a broken pot is toss it away in the trash.
As we enter into this holiest of weeks, let us be eternally grateful that God is NOT like you and me.
God looks at us broken pots, and throwing us in the trash is never an option. God looks at us broken pots and LOVES us. God looks at us broken pots, and God doesn’t even think “repair.” God doesn’t “fix” you and me. God goes beyond repair and fixing. God does what only God can do – through Jesus Christ, you and I are REMADE.
Jesus does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He sees it all – our imperfections, every shortcoming – our sin, our brokenness – and loves us to wholeness.
Through the cross, through Holy Baptism, you and I are made new creatures. Each day, each moment, given a new start through the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
This is the whole reason for this most sacred of weeks. God sees our brokenness, as individuals and as a PEOPLE, and remakes us – makes us whole again, through love.
This is no warm fuzzy love. No cuddly kittens, cute puppy dogs or fluffy bunnies. This love is deadly serious. Love that is willing to lay down its life. Love that became broken itself so that we could be made whole. Love that is willing to suffer. Love that doesn’t just go the extra mile, or even in the words of the children’s book* – all the way to the moon and back – this love goes to DEATH and back.
This love stoops to become one of us, washes our dirty feet and cleans our dirty souls, so that we can have heaven. Now THAT’S a reason to wave palm branches and shout Hosanna.
*Guess How Much I Love You. written by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram. Candlewick Press, 1995.