We Cry Out, Hosanna
Because Our World Is Upside Down!
† IHS †
As we adjust from living in a world that is upside down, may the grace of God turn our world right side up, and help us be at peace with the change!
Discomfort and the Poseidon Adventure
Vicar Mark made a comment in Bible Study the other night that made so much sense. Talking about Palm Sunday, (aka the Sunday of the Passion) he compared it to an old movie, the Poseidon Adventure.
He indicated that Palm Sunday is like the few hours after the people on the upside down ship were rescued. When they were still so disoriented because what had been upside down, was now right side up. Where what had sadly become normal, was not normal any longer.
It is like trying to adjust to the sermon being the very first thing in the service.
It’s odd, and we aren’t comfortable with it.
Yet when God comes into our lives, it is to put everything back the way it should be.
We have to get used to it as well! Even as we have to get used the paradox of this being both Palm Sunday, and the first day of Holy Week; also known as Sunday of Christ’s passion.
The world shifts back to normal, but will we recognize it? Will we adjust to God making everything right?
Our Discomfort with the Meek Ruler
When in a few minutes, you hear the words of Zechariah read, I want you to think through the words,
Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt.
That was why the people of Jerusalem were so happy, this was the King, their King that was entering Jerusalem, the one to whom they cried out Hosanna. By the way, that isn’t just a cry of victory, it is a cry asking for it, a cry of despair, a cry for Jesus to go out and win.
Even as they recognized and cried out to Jesus, knowing this, they didn’t see what the salvation they cried for entailed.
For instance, instead of coming on the White Warhorse, proud and ready to lead, he comes on donkey’s foal – a young ass barely able to carry him.
That’s not what we want as our leader, we want someone strong, ready to take on everything, ready to go to war, ready to conquer everything. The kind of King we can follow in triumph.
But that Is upside down thinking. If our God is God and nothing can stand against Him, then Jesus doesn’t have to come decked out for war, He can come humbly and peacefully. He can come in a way that is relaxed, in a way everyone can reach out to Him.
That is how it would be, if sin didn’t rule over people. Jesus knew why He came, and the kind of kingdom He would establish. Confident of the Father’s love, and their plan to set everything right side up, He comes with that in mind.
Our discomfort with the Peace He Brings!
We see the same disorientation, when you start to think about the peace this prophecy about Jesus’ promises. Usually we think of creating peace by disarming the enemy, making them submit to us.
Look at the verse again.. and hear this when it is read later,
10 I will remove the battle chariots from Israel and the warhorses from Jerusalem. I will destroy all the weapons used in battle, and your king will bring peace to the nations.
The prophecy wasn’t about God disarming the world, it was about God disarming Israel! That doesn’t sound quite right! It sounds quite upside down in fact! At least from the perspective of living in a broken, sinful world, we want a country well armed! After all, isn’t It the world against us? Shouldn’t we make it submit to us?
As God moves to set make everything right, Jesus shows us the greatest victory through dropping the defenses, and loving and serving those who would be our enemy. His example isn’t from forcing them to obey, but by giving us the confidence to obey.
A confidence that realizes that we don’t have to be offensive in dealing with our enemies, for Jesus will provide them a level of peace, even as His kingdom spreads throughout the world.
As Israel, under the watchful eye of the Roman military as well as the religious authorities calls out for Jesus to save them, Zechariah’s prophecy should point them to the paradox of the cross, where Jesus brings the Father glory, where He wins us the victory, by disarming himself.
They never saw it coming. They couldn’t see it right, for their world was upside down. The question is will we see it here.. And now?
Or has sin disoriented us too much?
He is our answer, our place of Safety.
Zechariah saw it coming. Perhaps it is a better to say the Holy Spirit inspired His perception, and led Zechariah to write this prophecy.
Here some more of it,
11Because of the covenant I made with you, sealed with blood, I will free your prisoners from death in a waterless dungeon. 12 Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners who still have hope!
Even as the Vicar and an Elder process this morning, you will note that the procession moves towards the altar, toward the place where you will be given Christ’s body and blood this morning, the place where you cry of Hosanna – God save us! Is answered.
Before a cross, remembering that it was at the cross where the blood of the covenant was poured out, even as the wine and blood will be poured out this morning.
Everything turned upside down. A Kingdom won by surrender, peace gained by allowing violence, leadership found in humility, Life created in death, freedom found in submission. Saints found as sinners are revealed to be in Christ.
A life lived in safety and security, for eternity.
Because of God’s passion, because of the peace He came to bring, riding on a donkey.
So we celebrate that Christ, the one who flips everything, making it right, making life the way it was supposed to be. We celebrate Jesus, who sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, to give us the strength to deal with the disorientation is revealed to be something need to know – the peace that passes all understanding.
Alleluia, He is Risen! Therefore
We are Risen Indeed!† IHS †
May you rejoice as you realize the gifts of God our Father, poured out on you in Baptism, as we are united with Christ’s death and Resurrection!
It’s not just for Easter Season!
For someone whose been to church for a while, some phrases we say are as automatic as responding to someone who sneezes.
They sneeze, we say, “God bless you”
For those who’ve been around this church and many others, if I were to say, “The Lord is with you”…. Hahaha… I knew some of you would not wait to hear me respond…so please – don’t respond to this next one…
“Alleluia! He is Risen@” you would normally answer, “He is Risen Indeed!”
Not today, today I want you to respond, “Therefore we are risen indeed! Alleluia!”
Let us try it – “Alleluia – He is Risen!”
“therefore we are risen indeed! Alleluia!”
One more time?
“Alleluia – He is Risen!”
“therefore we are risen indeed! Alleluia!”
We desperately need to understand this – that because He died, and He rose, we too with the church in Rome, can consider ourselves to be dead to the power of sin, and alive to God, through Christ Jesus.
That has to become part of our daily thought, to realize we are dead to sin, and alive to God through Christ. As it does, we become more and more aware of His love for us, and His walking with us through life.
How we would want to live
With 15 years of being a fulltime pastor now, I think one of the greatest challenges that exist for people is to understand the Doctrine of Justification personally, in their daily lives. Or to put it clearly – to get the connection between the phrase Alleluia! He is Risen, and “therefore we are Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
We know how God expects us to live, loving Him, loving those around us. We understand that is God’s salvation is His gift to us, and it is found in trusting Christ, not in our works. Many of us have known these truths as long as we can remember.
Yet when we look at our lives, we struggle, because there great truths aren’t always seen in our daily actions, We know what’s good, but can we live that way throughout our lives? It’s a paradox, one that can make us question whether God really is active in our lives. Or take the opposite tack, and try to excuse and defend our sin, rather than seeking the comfort
Though we think more of Romans 7 and 8 when we talk about our struggle with sin, it really begins here, in the first verses of chapter 6. Here Paul begins to address sin, and our being declared without sin, because of Jesus. We lose our ability to just dismiss it, or justify it’s constant presence in our lives. First, he deals with the dismissal, that sin isn’t that big of a deal, because God is glorified as He forgives and cleanses us of sin. Therefore, more sin equals more glory, so no big deal?
He says we can’t let that attitude even be born in our lives, because, we’ve died with Christ. Having died with Christ, why should we go back to it?
Paul strips away our excuses for our sin, by reminding us of what happened. Being in bondage to sin isn’t our normal way of life anymore.
Hear the Message!
That’s the key to this passage, sin and its power over us is history, sin doesn’t have the power we once knew it to have. It cannot, for we have been baptized into Christ, joined with Him
And as we have been united with Christ – the words are incredible there – we are nailed to the cross with Christ, they are compound words – syn-staurothe – crucified together with Christ, Synthapto, buried together with Him. The prefix syn indicating a communal aspect – all together in this, sharing in it, one with Him in His death.
These picture us so untied to Christ’s death, burial and resurrection that we can’t be separated from it, Paul then goes on to say, if this is true regarding being one with His death, we will be one with His resurrection, in His tossing aside death, in His leaving sin so powerless – that we are considered dead to each other.
For Alleluia! Christ is Risen! Therefore?
So what do we do? We realize what Paul is saying to the church in Galatia as well,
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Galatians 5:24 (NLT)
That is what living in Christ is all about – about leaving our sin, our passions and desires, nailed to the cross – and when we struggle with sin, to bring it back there and leave it where it belongs.
You’re dead to its power – and alive to Christ. Because God claimed you in baptism.
When we said earlier that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, that’s what we know, yet it is something for which we need daily reminder. It’s why we pray that God would lead us away from temptation and deliver us from evil, so that we will know He does. It is why we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and hear St Paul say that every time we do this, knowing Christ, we proclaim His death until He comes again.
Because in proclaiming His death, we are proclaiming the victory, the liberation of us from the power of sin. Delivering us into a life filled with the Father’s love and mercy and comfort and peace.
So you sinned this week, God’s dealt with it, and when you face temptation, your struggle is not to overcome it by your own strength, but to look to Christ, know you are in His presence, flee to His side, to the cross, and know that sin cannot defeat you there. Remember you are baptized into Christ’s death, and raised with Him, think of the body and blood given to you in this place, and know God has separated you from your enemy sin.
That’s what this service, and Sunday School, and our Bible study are all about.
To help us know this.
That we are dead to the power of sin, and alive to God through Christ.
For Praise God, He is Risen, and therefore we are risen indeed, Alleluia?