Isaiah 50: 4-9a Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2: 5-11; Mark 14:1- 15:37 Oremus Bible Browser Photos

Palm Sunday April9th 2006 019

The Word of God on Palm Sunday always seems so evident and part of that, I guess, is a familiarity with the story. But I just want to take a moment or two just to reflect on where we are, what we’re doing and what this is about. We’ve just heard the reading of Mark’s gospel, and for many of us in years past and for many churches in the week that’s to come there’s going to be a celebration of…. what? It’s actually going to be a celebration of Christ, his journey into Jerusalem, his crucifixion and then, thank God, his resurrection. That’s really what a lot will be looking to this Easter. I suggest that if we go with them, we miss the whole point; we miss the whole point. The last thing that the start of this narrative was on about was creating Christians. That is not, I don’t think, anything to do with Easter, nothing at all. And it’s quite good that we have the dramatic reading of the Gospel, in parts, because what we can begin to appreciate is what Mark has given us is a play, he has given us a play, a play in which, we can see and find our part. Plays are stunningly dead if they’re just in little books on the shelf; they are to be enacted. That’s what Mark has given us, something to be enacted. And at the same time, it’s more than that: ‘I don’t want you to act out something about this man called Jesus; this actually is the story of life revealed in Christ. Now act it out.’

So we’re not putting on a play about Jesus, that’s not what it’s about. So much of the church has got it so wrong and it is so obvious. Because for two thousand years the revolution that started on Passion Sunday has not come about, because somewhere the revolution was sidetracked. That walking into Jerusalem was about turning the world around. The Divine is revealed in and through us - no, it is not in Jesus, it is not the super-hero of two thousand years ago. And what we have on Passion Sunday is an opportunity to see the Gospel narrative as a play in which we must find a part and play our part, if the play is ever to be performed.

The walk that we symbolically do is one very helpful way of seeing that we are actually, we are called through the Gospel to walk the path of revolution, to walk to bring about change, to walk toward that which is divine, to walk toward that which will unfold creation so that all will be fully alive. Not that I may be fully alive, not that a few of us here may be fully alive, not that the Christian church may be fully alive, but that the whole of creation will sing in praise.

And that picks up everyone and every living thing and the realisation that we are part of a whole. That’s the path that we’re asked to walk. And as you walk it, as you walk from Gino’s to St Paul’s, there is a sense of direction; you know where you’re going. If we reflect on it though - and we’ve got the whole of Holy Week to now do that - to just reflect on what is the path I walk, where am I going, where is it leading? Is there any part of me that then seeks the divine path? And what might that look like? Do I actually see that the gospel given to us by Mark, a story that we will become more and more familiar with over the next week, that this isn’t a tale about Jesus, this is not trying to create something special about Jesus, but rather to say this is the play in which you participate. Because as we grasp that, the one thing that we can also do is to realise that as we walk, we do walk away from something. And if you’re uncertain as to where you walk then at least let’s use this week to look at where we stand and to see what it is that we need to walk away from, in order to be fully alive, to be fully alive and one with everyone else’s fullness and aliveness.

Today we hear the story of revolution. Today we hear again the gift that we celebrated at Christmas; the divine is enfleshed, not in Jesus – this Easter, let’s leave Jesus back two thousand years ago. Let’s not bring that into the present, but rather realise the truth of that first walk of revolution: that the divine has taken on flesh and that the play is now waiting to unfold. And the enfleshed Divine is us and our participation in the play.

The Lord be with you

Peter Humphris

Textweek Palm Sunday