Pastor's Sermons

Sermon for Passion Sunday ~ March 29, 2015

Mark 15:1-47

Today is a day of drama: the beginning of holy week.  This is the week of Christ’s passion –- It means that the “doing” of a great, great love will take place.  This is the whole purpose of the story of Jesus – all else is introduction.

 

Last week Jesus said that his “hour” had come.  We are at this hour with him…

 

One Last Time: through the gates to the table

 

We have already sung Hosannas to this king as he entered the city for the last time.  We have paved the way with praises singing, “All Glory, Laud and Honor!” 

 

I have been told by folks from time to time, “This will be my last car or my last home.” Time passes and the facts of aging become clear.  At the beginning, life is full of firsts.  At the end, we come to last things. 

 

Jesus also had his last supper.  That was a special one… a time for best friends.  The Passover meal was also for guests and those who had nowhere to go.  It was a meal of friendship.  A meal to remember.

 

On Thursday and Friday David Goa was with us talking about Muslim Neighbors.  We heard stories of hospitality, sharing a meal, being with others in gentle ways. We’ve been to special suppers.  The host invites friends.  The host knows everyone and the gathering is a time to be together, meet new friends, to laugh and feast with gladness.

 

Jesus had his last supper and we remember every week, we keep welcoming, keep extending his grace and invitation to all.  Jesus takes his last ride, his last walk, his last look, his last breath.  Just like we will…

 

Manhandled

 

The arrest was aggressive.  His friends wanted to fight.  Instead, he moved forward and asked them to stand back.  The garden was his last time of freedom. 

 

I have been present when handcuffs and shackles were put on others.  I have asked “Is this necessary?” and have been stared down by officers and Emergency Response Team members.  And prisoners have given me that,“It’s okay, I know what is coming” look.  

 

Jesus had talked about this.  He knew what was coming

 

Pushing, shoving, mockery, name-calling, shaming are often tools of force.  There is no turning back.  It is too late for a change of heart.   The Gospel of Mark will not be quiet.  We must watch.  We often feel helpless.  But we will not forget.

 

Nor will we forget today when we see people hurt.  We will stand against aggressive manhandling, ruthless violence and brutality.  We will help people live.  It is what neighbours do.

 

And then it’s over, isn’t it?

 

His hour ran out at a cross.  We have not forgotten.  Nobody put him there.  He went on his own.  Politicians may have been complicit.  Religious game playing may have been present. Police may have been rough.  Soldiers may have been brutal.  Friends may have turned on him or turned away from him.

 

The cross stands as an image for us that God now knows the human condition personally.  God now knows that love is hard, pain is terrifying, and thoughts can send us to despair.  God knows personally that on our own we are lost. 

 

But we are not lost.  The story tells us that in life and pain, we have been joined by Jesus.

 

Can anything come out of such deep, deep darkness?  We remember the seed. With so much trouble and terror and torment among us, we are sorry creatures.  This hour of great, great love and this week of last things is so strange. 

 

Jesus moves through the worst we can imagine: injustice, humiliation, suffering, abandonment and desolation.  He knows the darkness of our fears.  He knows our struggle to trust in God.  Whether we think of Jesus or ourselves, when the worst has come and all is lost, and we cry out that it is all over…

 

It is not.

 

We may have to hold each other up, but join me this week as we follow Jesus and let’s talk again next Sunday.

 

Amen.

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