Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sermon for Sunday, March 20, 2016 by the Rev. Karen Joy Kelly

Sermon – Palm Sunday Year C
Luke 19: 28-40
With reference to the Passion (Luke 23: 1-49)

          It is customary to read the entire passion of Jesus at this service and have it read by members of the congregation. We should not lose site of the reasons for the members of the congregation to take part. We take part in this narrative because we are all complicit in the life and death of Jesus Christ by the way we are and the way we live. We are reminded of that particularly at this reading.
Yet, there is another reason for its reading and that is that many (dare I say most) opt out of participating in what we would refer to as our High Holy Days … those days during the coming week where we re-live Jesus’ last days.
          Please consider participating this coming week if at all possible so that your experience of joy on Easter morn is as fulfilling as it possibly can be. You see, without Maundy Thursday and Good Friday there is no Easter. Many of us, since Ash Wednesday have gathered weekly to gain strength and affirmation as we do our best to learn to “walk our talk”.
          I am always reminded of my Reformed colleagues during this time who say that they love how Episcopalians “use all the senses.” The reading of the story is part of that. We not only come to understand our own complicity in the acts that took place, but we re-live the washing of feet, the Last Supper and the crucifixion on Friday as we experience the cross in our midst. While we enter our sanctuary in joy this morning we leave in silence … in quiet departure, beginning the final leg of Jesus’ journey as we journey with him.
          But today, I invite you into a different meditation. One that is meant to help us understand that all of this was done for us to experience a “new thing”. That “new thing” is what is to happen to us as changed beings, having intentionally walked with Jesus through his life, death and resurrection. #
As we gathered for Morning Prayer in the beautiful Abbey on the Island of Iona, we began the service with:
          “The world belongs to God; the earth and all its people.
          How good it is, how wonderful; to live together in unity.
          Love and faith come together; justice and peace join hands.
          If Christ’s disciples keep silent; these stones would shout aloud!
          Open our lips, O God; and our mouths shall proclaim your praise!”[1]
          I could not help but think of these powerful moments, surrounded by a sanctuary of over 1000 years made of the stone of the island quarried right there on Iona. I felt that I could hear the voices of the ages shouting out and that my voice had now also joined in this chorus.
          And we hear yet again this morning “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out!” #
          And so, in faithful, obedience, Jesus and his disciples departed from the Mount of Olives, himself on a donkey and the others following and shouting “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”   
          Today, I invite you to hear the words, once again from the Iona Abbey that reaffirm our baptismal commitments and our intention to follow Christ in this new way … by study, prayer and action as to how we can enter into this kind of ministry … both individually and as the members of this church.#
          O God, who called all life into being; the earth, sea and sky are yours.
          Your presence is all around us; every atom is full of your energy.
          Your Spirit enlivens all who walk the earth; with her we yearn for justice to be done.
          For creation to be freed from bondage; for the hungry to be fed.
          For captives to be released for your kingdom of peace to come on earth.
In the midst of hunger and war we celebrate the promise of plenty and peace.
In the midst of oppression and tyranny we celebrate the promise of service and freedom.
In the midst of doubt and despair we celebrate the promise of faith and hope.
In the midst of fear and betrayal we celebrate the promise of joy and loyalty.
In the midst of hatred and death we celebrate the promise of love and life.
In the midst of sin and decay we celebrate the promise of salvation and renewal.
In the midst of death on every side we celebrate the promise of the living Christ. Amen.[2]
And so be it, beloved, as we go through this holiest of weeks together, let us celebrate that which Christ gave for us and let us re-examine our own lives to be more in his image so that we can give for him, with him and in him.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.         

[1] Iona Abbey Worship Book, The Iona Community, Wild Goose Publications, Glasgow, Scotland, 2001, p. 15
[2] Iona Abbey Worship Book, The Iona Community, Wild Goose Publications, Glasgow, Scotland, 2001, p. 73, 74, 75.

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