Homily – Palm Sunday

With today, my friends; we begin the holiest of weeks of our Church Year. In today’s readings we see Jesus, our brother, entering triumphantly the city of Jerusalem as the prophets predicted the Messiah would one day.  He entered unlike an earthly king of his time would have, not in glory, but humbly, as in his birth, he came on the back of a donkey. His whole earthly life challenged the powers-that-be to live for others, to rule justly, to see that real authority comes from the heart, not the head.

Yesterday, thousands of young people and their supporters, over one million in fact,  entered our “holy city,” Washington, D.C. and many thousands others around our country, even here in Winona, MN, to speak truth to power in a similar way as our brother Jesus did all those hundreds of years ago.  Some of these young people probably responded from their beliefs in faith that their God was calling them to this action, others, if asked, might simply tell us that, “It was the right thing to do!”

Young people across this country have been inspired by the leadership of the survivors of the most recent massacre due to gun violence in Parkland, Florida.  These young people found within themselves the intestinal fortitude to say, “Enough is enough! We are tired of being afraid; we are tired of trying to learn in a climate of fear for our very lives! And we respectfully, but most certainly demand that the powers-that-be do what is needed to protect us!”

And their leadership has inspired others, thousands of others!  These young people are truly leading the way and many of us “older folks” are finally, finally, finding within ourselves, the strength to follow them.  Jim Wallis of Sojourner Magazine said that he recently met with a group of ministers and that they all asked forgiveness for having been complicit in not making our schools and our world safer from gun violence.

This past week many gathered in Wesley United Methodist church from many Christian denominations—Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian along with our non-Christian sisters and brothers of the Jewish, Buddhist, Islamic and Hindu faiths to stand in solidarity with the young people from Parkland and to definitively say that we are more alike than we are different—that we all have one God who is calling us to find the way to live in peace with all—a peace that keeps us safe, free, and cared for.

During Holy Week; we are called upon to ponder much that we would name as mystery—a king, yet humble, a messiah who brings power and new life through death, death and resurrection and all that this meant for Jesus and ultimately for us.

The March on Washington has inspired many, because the strength of this movement lies in the innocent, the pure, the hope of the future—those without power who have acquired power, like Jesus, in the truth of the message that they have made their own. And this too is mystery in that we don’t know how it will turn out.

I recently completed a small volume entitled, Mustard Seed Preaching by Ann Garrido and her thesis, simply put, is that unless we take the Word, small as a mustard seed, with no power and let it grow in us, “become us,” in fact; it will never matter in our world that so needs its fruit.

Like our brother Jesus, my friends; we must listen to the call of our God who has first loved us and respond in love for our good and the good of our world. Holy Week is really all about love, love given—love received and love shared—in fact that is the whole Christian message as well as the message taught and practiced by our non-Christian sisters and brothers and all good people around the world whether they claim a Church or a god.

Let us pray for each other that we can respond as Jesus did, raised a good Jew, as the Buddha did, as Muhammad did, as those who practice Hinduism do! Amen?  Amen!