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Apr 3 / Reflexion Community

Palm Sunday 04/02/2023



Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Good morning!  Welcome to the RefleXion Community.  The Lord is with you.

The humble barnacle, those critters that attach themselves to the bottom of boats and dock pilings,  I don’t know anyone who has an affinity for them.  When they are born, they float for a very short time and then attach to the first things they find, and that is pretty much where they live out the rest of their lives.  They rely on the flow of the water passing by them, which they comb for food.  They have a hard shell, and if they sense a potential threat, they withdraw into those shells.  Wait….are we talking about barnacles or humans?!  We’re all pretty good at attaching to places we feel safe, retreating into our shells, and settling for what comes to us for our spiritual food.

But, what if one little barnacle had the desire to let go of what he’d always known and float down the flow of the river?  The ones he had been with would probably all yell, “No!  Don’t go!  Danger, Danger!”  But then he did let go and flowed freely again.  Then, what if the little barnacles who lived downstream saw him and they, too, felt invited to detach from what they’d always known, where they’d felt safe, and to follow the flow?  What if they said to each other, “I didn’t know we could do that!”

Today, we celebrate Palm Sunday.  Jesus was rejected by many, because He represented a new way to God and a new way to live.  Some yelled “No, Danger!”    And some felt invited to follow this man.  There was a large crowd around Jesus on Palm Sunday, people who threw down their cloaks and their old religion and chose to follow Jesus.  On this Palm Sunday, which people will we be?  Are we able to imagine that God will come to us in fresh ways?  Do we believe we can hear and trust His invitations?  Are we willing to be ones who can follow the New Way, the new Way of the Spirit?

Shall we pray? Father God, Jesus the Christ, Holy Spirit given to us, reveal to us Your Presence.  Thank you for opening for us the new and living way.  We will follow You.  Thank You for those who have led us and encouraged us.  Thank You for Your Holy Spirit Who is forming us.  We welcome You.  Amen

In our quiet time this morning, I wonder if we can step in to the Palm Sunday scene.   Let’s begin by taking a few deep breaths and then settling into a natural breathing and a comfortable yet alert posture.  Place yourself in the Palm Sunday scene as you imagine that it was.  You are arriving with others to the growing crowd.  It’s quieter than you imagined it would be.  Each one is attentive and waiting for Jesus to arrive.  Each one as the Spirit moves them is throwing down their cloak and laying down palm branches of welcome.  As we are waiting for His arrival, our desire to see Him intensifies, the passion of the crowd moves us into a collective anticipation.  We are here together, yet you are aware of your heart alone.  Let this be your moment to experience the waiting for and the coming of Jesus.

Morning Talk: Jim Calhoun

The beginning of the Passion

Let’s start with Jesus in Jerusalem. (John 10) The Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah)
There is a confrontation.
“If you are the Christ tell us plainly”
“I told you but you did not believe.“
“For which of my good works will you stone me?”

Jesus slips away and goes into hiding to Bethany across the Jordan some twenty-four miles away
While he is in hiding Jesus gets word that his friend Lazarus is very sick.
He delays his departure by a couple of days and we don’t know why.
Eventually he travels to Bethany about twenty-two miles from where had be staying.
He is met by first one sister and then the other and is taken to Lazarus’ tomb.

Though it seems plain that Jesus knew he would resuscitate his friend he was deeply emotional at his tomb.
Many people were there and watched as Lazarus walked from the tomb.
Unlike before Jesus couldn’t put a lid on this. Too many had seen it.

This set off a whole chain of events that led to Jesus’ death. How can this be? The raising of someone from the dead seems to be an unalloyed good.
But the opinions of what they had seen were widely and wildly different. Some believed that Jesus was the Christ and some thought he used the power of the devil.
Some praised God and some reported his actions to the authorities.
The authorities in this case were the high priests, keepers of the temple. They were the Sadducees and the Pharisees and they had quite the conversation about Jesus.

He’s what they said: If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.
Judea was occupied territory and had been for a long time. People responded to this differently.
The Sadducees were most closely tied with Rome. They were the keepers of the temple. The head of the temple , the chief priest was appointed by Rome. The Sadducees had no expectation or place in their thinking for a messiah.
The Pharisees – they thought the law was primary in matters not the temple. They put up with Rome wishing to be more or less left alone.
So the Sadducees and Pharisees worried that Jesus, if he were the Messiah, would disrupt the deal with Rome. They would lose their jobs, status, lives and the nation would be sacked.

I’ll say that this was a reasonable thought. When Herod the Great took power in 37 BC he slaughtered forty-five members of the Sanhedrin (the high Jewish council). They knew from recent history how it could go. And they knew Rome was tougher than Herod. In fact in a few years, Rome would tear down Jerusalem stone by stone in response to a revolt against them.

The high priest says this: it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.
This is a classic political assessment. Unknowingly it is also a prophecy.
Jesus did die for the people and for the nation. In fact, for us all.

By now Jesus knew it was no longer safe to be seen in public so he went into hiding again. This time he went to Ephraim in the wilderness, about sixteen miles north of Jerusalem.
Jesus returns to Bethany six days before the Passover. He stays with Lazarus and his sisters. That night Mary anoints his feet with perfume prefiguring his death. The next morning they head into Jerusalem.

Jesus mounts a young donkey. It is a statement all will understand. He comes in peace. The prince of peace. The anointed one. The messiah who will bring peace to the world.
The people (from Galilee) recognize him. He was the one who raised Lazarus from the dead. They cheered him. They laid down their cloaks and palm branches in homage.
It is hard to imagine how long this lasted. A few minutes? An hour or two? I don’t know. Nothing I know clearly says. But it doesn’t last long. Soon Jesus is talking about his impending death.

This moment of triumph was the beginning of the end. It begins the passion week. As true and correct as it is that Jesus was to be celebrated as the promised messiah, it didn’t last long.

We don’t live in a triumphant age.
We aren’t there yet.
While we experience some of the redemption promised in Christ we don’t have it all.
We live in the era of now but not yet.
We want to be triumphant. We want the struggles and battles to be over. We want the suffering and heartbreaks to be done. We want to be without worry. But not yet. We are still in the thick of it.

Some people act like we live in the age of triumph. That we should have all we desire.
It isn’t so.
Every person who is healed and recovers will one day succumb. Every person we know will die. That is how it will be in this era. We live in the time of now but not yet.
Now we get Christ and one day every tear will be dried
Some people hold that prosperity is every Christian’s due.
It isn’t so.
Not in this era.
Think of our poor brothers and sisters, faithful in Christ. They don’t get private jets. They probably don’t have basic medical care.
And brothers and sisters closer to home, faithful in Christ do they get to name anything in their imagination and demand God give it?
Not in this era.
We live in the time of now but not yet.
Now we get Christ and one day all of God’s riches will be ours and ours to share.

Some people hold that we as Christians should be first among all people. That others should comply with us, bend their will to ours, grant us deference and privilege.
It isn’t so.
Our place is known by how we serve others not by how they serve us. This era is when we love our neighbors as ourselves, and we lay down our lives for others because there is still a need for that.
Now we get Christ and one day the whole world will know peace, shalom.

Savor the good gifts of God when they come The happy gifts
A fortuitous circumstance
A rescue from a bad situation
A problem resolved unexpectedly
A great parking space.
Whatever it is savor it
Celebrate it
Keep a journal
Revisit these stories
Hold those moments close.
You may need that encouragement

Learn to recognize the more difficult gifts of god.
These are the deeper gifts in this day. They cause us to turn to God
To depend upon God
To reorient toward God
Thank God for these in your life.
You can write these down too.
Cherish them.
Knowing God is with you in them just the same as the happy gifts.

These are the blessings of this age. Matthew 5
Listen carefully for your blessing. Thank God for what you hear. Listen carefully for the ones you yearn for and then give yourself to them.
This is the true spirituality of this era. Of the now but not yet:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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