Marching in the Light of God: A Palm Sunday Sermon

An excerpt from the sermon on Palm Sunday:

“Maybe, just maybe, Palm Sunday happened yesterday morning.  High school students stood in solidarity with other survivors of gun violence yesterday, just 39 days after the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.  All over the country, students marched.  Young people led the way.  Parents and educators and aunts and uncles followed.  Ministers and police officers followed.  On the stairs of state house in Columbia, hundreds of students stood, using their voice and taking a stand.  The only thing missing yesterday were palms. The same way Jesus rode in on a donkey saying staring the Empire and oppression in the face, claiming that time was up, our young people are marching, too.        

This entire gospel, the entirety of all the gospels, is to teach a story about a God who loved us, people, so much, that God made God’s self fully human- that advocated for and fought for the rights of all humans.  And empowered us to do the same.

The life of Jesus is best explained by Richard Rohr.  He says, “Jesus announced, lived, and inaugurated a new social order, an alternative to violence, exclusion, and separation.  Jesus went so far as to promise us this alternate reality.  It is no fantastical utopia, but a very real and achievable peace.”

Jesus created a new social order.  We call him the prince of peace because that’s what he embodied.  And he promises us a world of peace, inclusion, and unity.  It’s very real and achievable.  But we can’t stay silent about it.  As Christians, as people who wave our palms once a year, giving thanks for a Jesus who created this new social order and who taught about love and grace and peace, we cannot keep contradicting ourselves.   

On this Palm Sunday, may we give thanks for all the people that ride into town on donkeys with a target on their back, who refuse to give up or who refuse to hide.  May we give thanks and learn their ways.  Instead of standing on the sidelines waving our palms, shouting “Hosanna! God save us!”, let’s follow this Jesus to the cross, facing the Empire and oppression, claiming that their time is up.  May we actively and boldly work to create a world of peace that Jesus taught us about.  May we boldly kneel at the feet of others and wash their feet.  So yes.  Hosanna. God, save us.  But God save us from ourselves, lest we become too quiet, too complacent.

And instead, let us march.  March into the light of God.”

 

 Jerry Basden, Lisa Davis Brownlee, Annis Rankin, Pastor Judith Myers at the March for Our Lives (Columbia, SC/March 24, 2018)

Jerry Basden, Lisa Davis Brownlee, Annis Rankin, Pastor Judith Myers at the March for Our Lives (Columbia, SC/March 24, 2018)