Today we celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem The crowds shout “Hosanna” and wave palms as they see Jesus coming closer. He does not enterJerusalem riding in a chariot or on a horse, but on the back of a lowly donkey. Crowds shouting “Hosanna in the highest” quickly turn to demands of “Crucify him.”
We are beginning the holiest of weeks in the life of the Christian church. We are about to enter into the central events of the Christian faith: the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. This triumphal entry into Jerusalem takes place in the shadow of the cross.
The gospel of Mark portrays Jesus as one who acts and teaches with power and authority. Yet throughout this Holy Week, Jesus is stripped of his power, and his voice is silenced. The mocking and jeering of passersby resounds, “Let the Messiah … come down from the cross.”
I believe that we all, at one time or another, have felt powerless and abandoned. We can, to a certain extent, identify with the loneliness and abandonment of Jesus. Close friends, whom we trust, betray us. The pain of broken and lost relationships overwhelms us.
Those who have been closest to Jesus throughout his earthly ministry, the twelve disciples, will now become the most distant during his greatest hour of need. They will all but disappear from the stage. Time and again throughout the gospel of Mark, they don’t fully understand the meaning of Jesus’ identity as the Son of God.
They fail to understand the words of Jesus at the Passover meal. They fall asleep at Gethsemane while Jesus agonizes alone in prayer, and one of Jesus’ own disciples betrays him. As if to add insult to injury, they all desert him when his trial begins. One follower is even seen running away naked to escape the captors (Mark 14:51-52). The final words from Jesus are words of powerlessness and abandonment: “My God, why have you forsaken me?”
Rev. Bryan Jackson
Psalm 31: 9-16
Scorn and spit; enemies everywhere. Verse 12 (b), in the NIV, is rendered “I have become like broken pottery.” There is a lot of broken pottery out there. What is broken in your church’s life, and how can you preach about it in a way that demonstrates more healing than injury?
Regarding Palm Sunday, lining the street with branches and one’s clothes can be redundant for persons who are feeling broken. Each reading from this selection of LLR (Liturgy of the Passion) reveals brokenness.
Broken pottery and vessels can sometimes be repaired, but there are always cracks. Surprisingly, though, a shattered vessel can point to the most incredible new beginning. Around our home, we have various pieces of pottery representing great sentiment: a friendship pot from Al; a cross Elizabeth and her daughter Missy made for my ordination, a pulpit with Bible, fashioned by my wife one day just with me in mind; a pair of kissing angels made and handed down by a great grand aunt who died in a car accident on Thanksgiving Day, 1934; and a flat acrylic painted piece by Bill Rabbit, a Cherokee Nation citizen and Vietnam vet, expressing my father’s Cherokee clan, among others.
Certainly, if any of these broke I too would be shattered—at least temporarily. Yet often resurrection sprouts from the smithereens. In the old days, during the traditional Cherokee wedding ceremony, the couple drank from a dual-sided wedding vase. Afterward, they threw the vessel to the ground and broke it, sealing their vows to signify their unity. The shattered fragments were returned to mother earth.
The broken pottery that surrounds you each week is a reason you do what you do. Continue to be a vessel for the broken ones, helping them be one with mother earth. Your times are in the hand of the Great Spirit.
Rev. Dr. Chris Ayers
Two sermons (each 8 to 10 minutes delivered at separate times in the service) this Sunday: "I gave my back to those who struck me" [I have a recording of hateful remarks left on our church answering machine after our public statements against Amendment One] and "The Wasteful Church." Tried and true rule: any church money spent on Jesus will not be wasteful. Any church money not spent on Jesus will be wasteful.