witness palm sunday 2004
It was a glorious witness to the
truth when Jesus entered
It was a witness to be sure. It
could not go unnoticed. The stones did not need to say a thing. The entrance to
But we have heard this story so many times before. The challenge for us is to get it, to pay attention, to finally see that we who profess to be followers of Jesus are not in the business of reinforcing the status quo, of keeping things as they are, but rather we are in the business of upsetting the apple cart, of creating a new world, of rethinking the values of a society that gives lip service to religious ideals while trampling all over each other to get our hands on the very things that the blessed clown of God mocks with his witness to the truth that we don't want to know because it calls us to be different, to risk ourselves rather than assure our own well-being at any cost. It simply is not natural to want to be vulnerable or generous or foolish It is natural to protect oneself. Jesus rode into town with no protection at all to the cheers of those who for one bright moment may have actually thought that love would overcome. How foolish is that?
What makes this interesting is that
the witness of Jesus entering
Sunday School at the Shadyside Presbyterian Church, writes Annie Dillard, the handsome father of rascal Jack from
dancing school, himself a vice-president of Jones and Laughlin Steel, whose
wife was famous at the country club for her tan, held a birch pointer in his
long fingers and shyly tapped the hanging paper map - shyly because he could
see we were not listening. Who would listen to this? Why on earth were we here?
There in the blue and yellow and green were
Yes, Jesus said that. When he rode
Dillard in another piece where she describes how somebody named Larry is teaching a stone to talk writes: We are here to witness. And what is our witness? Are we kind to one another let alone the stranger? Do we care about justice for anybody other than ourselves? Do we test and examine our assumptions or our self-interests? Are we open enough and brave enough to listen to the truth about ourselves? What do we know? What do we reveal of the truth? What do we offer of ourselves?
Palm Sunday is not just for Sunday School anymore. It is a clear call to confront the powers that be with the truth about love by living as those who are witness to how love overcomes the world and continuing to live as those who witness to love overcoming the world until well. . . . until love overcomes the world. For this is the unlikely good news on this Palm Sunday - love is overcoming the world. It sounds as ridiculous now as it did then but it is still the only good news we have.
Remember what Jesus said when they came to take him away? Be of good cheer, he said, I have overcome the world. This is one serious sense of humor but who is the joke on and why aren't we laughing? Beyond the words is a witness to something that, for us to know what it is, will cost us, in the words of the poet (TS Eliot) not less than everything.
PS : Now "everything"
sounds like a lot, perhaps is even incomprehensible but what it is that costs not less than everything is in fact more
than everything which may also be incomprehensible, as incomprehensible perhaps
as trees clapping and stones talking but some thing that is more than
everything that costs less than everything is a pretty good deal when you think
about it. For the record, love stops being an abstraction when it becomes a
practice. So, wave the palms, shout hosanna, love somebody, witness to this
crazy good news of which Jesus on that silly little donkey riding into
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