Happening Now Blog

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Wednesday Message

During one of the non-violent actions in Ferguson, Missouri which followed the shooting of Michael Brown, a picture emerged of a young woman praying in a line face-to-face with guards in full riot gear. The picture shows two faces separated by a bullet-proof shield, eye to eye, each with their own commitment to reducing violence.

I know this young woman; I have known her since her birth. She will soon be ordained as an ELCA pastor and will bring to the church a deep commitment to the gospel, to pastoral care and to Jesus' proclamation of justice among all of God's people. I think of her often this week as we approach Palm Sunday (liturgically known as "Sunday of the Passion".

When Jesus entered Jerusalem that Sunday he came into a town, a country and a faith under siege by a foreign power. The Roman Empire was never slow to demonstrate its force and not unwilling to back up that force with violence. I suspect the "Chief Priests and Scribes", those whom preachers can be so quick to criticize, had their hands and hearts full as they tried to sustain a faith and a way of life centered on God the Creator which was always in conflict with the absolute commitment required by Rome of the nations it occupied. The Roman forces, it seems, would demonstrate their power and might with triumphal marches into the cities. It is not hard to imagine the great war steeds brushed into gleaming splendor, bedecked with plumes, brasses and the finest tack, ridden by soldiers in polished armor, carrying spears, across the "red carpet" path set out before them.

Jesus' ride into Jerusalem on Sunday morning was a open act of civil disobedience; his entry was a non-violent protest. Instead of a "war-steed" he came in on the foal of a donkey; instead of the finest path spread before him, the people (once they quit gasping in fear at his audacity) threw down cloaks and cut branches from the trees as they joined in the exhilarating opportunity to claim some agency in their perilous existence.

I have tried for years to come up with an image to carry the feelings of this protest, and this year I might have stumbled on to one that captures at least some of the first stirrings of fear and exhilaration among the crowd when Jesus came through the gates.

Imagine a parade where the military might of a nation was shown to its fearful small neighbors by first seeing the most decorated officers coming through the gates on the biggest, baddest, chrome-laden, shining Harley-Davidson's, roaring their throttles. Then the next day along comes Jesus, pedaling a child's tricycle. The contrast is huge. The irony is obvious. The risk is beyond calculation. The crowd gasps, then begins to laugh, then joins in the spirit of making fun at that which terrifies them.

The protest of Palm Sunday could not be ignored. The Romans were embarrassed. The Temple Leaders were terrified that this might be the tipping point beyond which the way of faithful life for a people would not survive. The commemoration of the Palm Sunday entry begins our worship this Sunday; from their we go on to walk through the events of Holy Week, leaving Jesus in the tomb. With him we await the day of resurrection.

along the way

Pastor Dan



Wednesday  5:30 pm Soup/bread potluck supper
                    6:30 pm Holden Evening Prayer service

Friday          5:00 pm Women's Bible Study

Saturday     10:00 am Community Easter Egg Hunt

Sunday        8:30 & 11:00 am Palm Sunday Services
Join us this Saturday
Community Easter Egg Hunt

10:00 am at SOV
bring your own basket
All children ages 0-8 invited.

April Newsletter link