Celebrating Too Early

Celebrating Too Early

Palm Sunday

NOTE: The audio is substandard, with some “echo” we didn’t hear during recording. You may want to forward past some of the sections. Our apologies!

Service Booklet

All Readings: The Liturgy of the Palms The Liturgy of the Word

Gospel: Mark 11:1-11

1When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2and said to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3If anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?” just say this, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.” ’ 4They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5some of the bystanders said to them, ‘What are you doing, untying the colt?’ 6They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
   Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! 
10   Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Afterthoughts: The Arc of Our Story

On Sunday I shared how there was an arc to the Scriptures for the morning that started with a celebration and ended with a major change-death.

Narrative arcs are a part of all good stories.
These arcs give structure to what is being communicated;
They give context for what is happening.

Our lives have an arc to them.
This, of course, is seen in retrospect.

But for God, it is different.
He sees from beginning to end.
For God, it is holistic.

This is why I shared the illustration of celebrating too early
as it related to the narrative arc of last week’s readings.
The people gathered in the Mark 11 reading (the Triumphal Entry) celebrating Messiah as King were off in their understanding.

They had the same view of the arc as we do: backwards looking.
Which for them meant
an incorporation of the Old Testament prophecy,
the Jewish tradition about Messiah
and their experience of Jesus.

This led them to believe that Jesus would be the conquering Messiah.
A warring king to overthrow the Romans
and reclaim the Holy Land for Israel.

What they didn’t have was God’s perspective of the narrative arc.
God’s arc was way more impressive than theirs.
The conquering king would be, in reality,
the Redeeming King and God’s own Son.

Much better than their thinking.
Which would have been our thinking too if we had been in that crowd.
And is our thinking when referencing our own narrative arc.

I shared on Sunday that I have had many times when I felt that I had “arrived.” To be honest, I am not really sure I know what that means now.
I thought I did.

I had a view of my life in the rear view mirror that seemed like it confirmed that I had “arrived,” but I hadn’t.
Once I reached my perceived destination,
I was drawn deeper into the journey.
Which meant that I hadn’t arrived at anything other than a transfer station.

God was not done making me into the likeness of His Son.
And, liked I shared on Sunday,
God is never done with us.

The Apostle Paul names this in one of his letters:

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:10-14

He wants to know Christ.
He desires to be in relationship with Jesus.

And the power of His resurrection.
The power of a life revived.
A life changed.

And to experience the power of resurrection,
It meant Paul must die.

The power of the resurrection of Jesus is through the death of Jesus.
The life that desires to live in resurrection power,
Must die to itself.
It must be emptied.

Not the death of our personalities.
The death of our egos.

This is what God calls all of us to.
Which shouldn’t scare us.
Or make us step back.

Because God is.

When Moses asks God to tell him who is sending him to the Hebrew people, God says, “Tell them I Am sent you.”

God is.

David echoes this in the psalm from last week.
After listing all of the ways his life was threatened,
David (almost) challenges God to step up,

But as for me, I have trusted in you, O Lord.
I have said, “You are my God.
My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies
and from those who persecute me.
Make your face to shine upon your servant
and in your loving-kindness save me.”

Psalm 31:14-16

In the midst of our own narrative arcs,
The God of the universe is present.
Which is helpful to know when life seems to be a bit off.
Or it is not going “according to plan.”
Or it is not “normal.”
Or we lose our way.
Or the path is obscured.
When the dues we have been paying don’t seem to payout.
When we are left wondering “Why me?”

When it seems like the end of the road,
but is really the beginning of the next part of the journey.

Of continuing to learn to love God and trust in His grace and mercy.
Of releasing our death grip on having control of our lives
And allowing ourselves to see anew the life God has for us.
Will you walk with me in this journey?