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Living in the Passion

Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday, Year C, RCL Isaiah 50:4-9a, Philippians 2:5-11, Luke 19:28-40, 22:14-23:56

Wilhelm Morgner, 1912, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem

We know the story of Jesus’ Passion. After all, we just heard it. Yet Paul tells us that hearing the story is not enough. “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,” he says. In other words, we are to live life as Christ. Not only acting like Jesus but thinking like Jesus, having the same resolve that Jesus did while facing the cross. This is a tall order that none of us can fulfill. Many of us avoid the things we fear. We don’t even like to talk about death, let alone walk toward it. And this is one thing that separates Christ from the rest of us. Christ was fully human without sin; without succumbing to the primal urges which cause others to suffer.

In our story, we just went from holding our messiah up. Hailing him as king. Parading around in the glory and hope for our salvation, into a world where we shout, “Crucify Him.” Oh yes, this is what we do every time we cause harm or walk past someone in need. Every time we look down upon someone as not good enough or less than ourselves, we shout, Crucify Him! And because of our actions or inactions, Christ is hung on a cross to die. We go from celebrating Christ as our messiah; to cheering on his death; to then, after he is in the tomb, we wonder what we have done.

This empty place is not an easy place to be. It’s a place where we may have been before, such as when we are in the midst of an argument and said something that we could not take back. Said or did something that changed our relationship forever. It is in this despair, of not knowing our future, that we end our service today. We have all shouted, “Crucify Him.” We all took part in nailing him to the tree. We all watched his painful, agonizing death. And we watched him being put into the tomb.

We see that the messiah is dead, and we wonder, where is our hope now.

I could leave my sermon here, in this moment of despair, for this is where our reading ends. It is where we are meant to sit; in a pile of ash, like Job, wondering what is going to happen. We sit in this place through Good Friday, when we return to the scene of the crime, reliving it again, and realizing that there is nothing we can do. Jesus is dead. Even on Saturday evening, we will walk into the tomb, without light, without hope, in despair, for we saw him die and cannot fathom him being the messiah, the king of the kings. For if he was God, how could he die? And we question, was everything he taught us a lie? How could this have been the Lord?

Yet every Sunday is a mini-Easter, and we know what is to come. We are assured that the tomb is empty, that the Lord is risen, and that we have hope in the life to come. Yet, for the moment, let us walk together in this holy week, reliving for ourselves the passion of this story, reliving for ourselves what Christ really means to us in our lives and what our lives would be like without him.


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