Sunday, March 20, 2016

Colt on the Loose, Luke 19:28-42

Commerce Presbyterian Church
March 20, 2016, Palm Sunday
Rev. C. Craig Topple

Slide: Colt on the Loose - Luke 19:28-42
Original (507 × 383)
How much time will have to pass, how old will I or my girls have to be, before references to the 2014 movie Frozen no longer come to mind when I thinking of images for sermons?
Any guesses? I apologize to any of you who haven’t seen the hit flick. 
Or rather, instead of apologizing, maybe you should break down and see it. It’s actually better than you might think.
Anyway, it stars two sisters, Elsa and Anna who are orphaned. Disney seems to really enjoy telling stories of children and animals--we watched bambi a few weeks ago--who lose their parents tragically…
These orphaned sisters, Elsa and Anna, grow up alone it seems.
And, finally when Elsa comes of age she is to be made Queen!  
The date of her coronation is set, guests are invited, the gates of the kingdom of Arendelle will be opened and they’re going to have a big party.  
Slide: Coronation Day
And for those of you who remember the scene; younger sister Anna gets out of bed in the morning with as much difficulty as my eldest daughter.  
But, when she is reminded and it registers to her that it is coronation day...she perks up:
It’s Coronation day!
She bursts into song!
"The window is open, so's that door
I didn't know they did that anymore
Who knew we owned eight thousand salad plates?"

Or,  If the emotion of frozen and coronation day doesn’t capture today’s biblical scene.
Think Victory Day.  How  'bout that time the Braves won the world series in 1995!


Or think back even further to the last time the bulldogs were national champions.

Palm Sunday is a time of celebration, because it is Jesus’ coronation day! His day of Victory!

Slide: “Blessed...
He is world famous by the time he rides into Jerusalem to claim his rightful God ordained place in history. Perhaps greater than the expectations of the people of middle earth for King Aragorn,
the people of Jerusalem’s expectations of this future king, Jesus, are sky high.  
“After centuries of oppression, abuse, displacement, corruption, and disgrace, the people of Jerusalem” are hopeful that Jesus will bring about change they can believe in.
“After being forced to pay taxes to Caesar and shuffling past Roman guards on the way to the Temple,” they hope he will be a great warrior who will defeat the enemy, and end politics as usual.
“After watching friends and neighbors turn their backs on the nation and on even their religion in pursuit of a buck,” these expectant people hope Jesus will be a great priest who will bring about reform and an end to corruption.  

These images--warrior, high priest, King--imply power from above, from God, is bestowed on the one who will implement these changes...and they way it will take place is the way power is understood.  In order to gain power, you have to get power from somewhere.
That is how power works right.
You have to take power away from those people, no matter how much or how little they have, so that others can have it.
Of course, along with expectations come doubts and questions--the higher the expectations the more frightening the doubts: You know in the back of their minds they had to have been wondering:  
Is this the long awaited King, descendant of the great king David, who will rule in favor of God’s people?  Could this finally be the promised one, who will overthrow the bad guys, and restore our nation?

Enough of that--Here he comes!  
Jesus, Yes! He’s riding into town!
This is the traditional way a warrior king is to enter,
in triumph after victoriously defeating enemies in battle..
Ride into town King Jesus, descend upon the capitol for your swearing in ceremony!  
“Grab your palms children;
don’t spare putting your clothes in the mud, We’ve got plenty of oxyclean at home, don’t we honey?
Look at the crowds lining the way for the future king.

There he is. See him?
Okay, so join me. On the count of three shout at the top of your lungs,
There are the words on the slide:
“Hosanna! Blessed is he
Okay, Ready
One, two...thr...
“Daddy, are we eating Lasagna for supper.”

Huh, “Hosanna, sweetheart, hosanna is the word.”
Okay on the count of three, one.. two.. thr…
“Daddy. What does Hosanna mean?”
It means “SAVE US!” Now pay attention!

Here he comes!
One two three….Hosanna Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven and Glory in the highest heaven!
Awe, “Daddy, Did you see that...he’s riding a cute little donkey…”

Yes, dear, I saw that...kind of a strange animal for a king….
Is it just coincidence Luke spends some six versus focused on what Jesus was riding?
The type of animal. How it’s procured. The whole conversation that’s going to take place…
Just say, “The Lord needs it.” You’ll be fine. Go on guys.  
He’s riding in on a little colt...And we’re pretty sure this isn’t the young colt of a mighty steed either…
instead, most likely this is a young donkey.  
The King James often renders a word for this animal we can no longer use in polite company..
Why so much to do about what Jesus was riding?  
Slide: Lampoon (defined: publicly criticize (someone or something) by using ridicule, irony, or sarcasm)
Christians Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw suggest:
When Jesus rode a donkey into the festival, it was a lampoon, like street theater.... [It’s like an] anti-triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Imagine the president riding a unicycle in the Fourth of July parade. Kings did not ride donkeys. They rode mighty war horses accompanied by an entourage of soldiers. So here is Jesus making a spectacle of violence and power, riding in on the back of an ass. (And a borrowed one at that!)
–Jesus For President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, 2008
Slide: ride of choice?
It’s like instead of coming in on a well armored Hummer
File:Warsaw Hummer 03.JPG
Jesus is driving an old Honda Civic.
Honda City Turbo II
Slide: Image of Choice?
Instead of coming into town like Aragorn,
Jesus looks more like Yankee Doodle,
Yankee Doodle | Fun With
only his ride’s not even as esteemed as Yankee Doodle’s is.  
Why would Jesus do this? What is he trying to accomplish?
This supposed to be a triumphal entry ...
He supposed to seize power and restore it to the chosen people...
My preaching professor Chuck Campbell said of Jesus riding into town on Coronation Day on a donkey: “Jesus is turning the world’s notions of power and rule and authority on their heads. His theater is a wonderful piece of political satire.
Jesus lampoons all the powers of the world and their pretensions to glory and dominion, and he enacts an alternative to the way of the Domination System.”
By riding into town on a borrowed young donkey
Jesus is saying:
I come to town to rule not as one who lords his authority over others, but as one who rejects domination and comes as a servant.
I come to town to rule not with pomp and wealth but as one identified with the poor.
I come to town to rule not as a mighty warrior but as one who refuses to rely on violence.
Jesus enacts the subversive, nonviolent reign of God in the midst of the city.
[The Word Before the Powers: An Ethic of Preaching by Charles L. Campbell, 2002]

In case we need to hear this again in a different way one more time...I do, Pastor Chris Gilmore in his blog says:
“Jesus isn’t interested in making Judea great again. His platform is not based popular opinion or national security. A vote for Jesus is a vote for a Ruler who won’t seek to defeat enemies, but instead lays down his life for his enemies, and commands followers to pray for their enemies."
A vote for Jesus is a vote for a Ruler who doodles in the sand rather than drawing lines in it to delineate and divide based on race, nationality, or religion.
A vote for Jesus is a vote for a Ruler who isn’t about defending himself with powerful weapons, but instead he tells followers those who live by the sword die by the sword.

Slide” Colt on the Loose
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Palm Sunday--Coronation Day.
Something was a little off when Jesus of Nazareth went to town riding on a donkey...
The crowd made way for him.  Many followed the disciples’ lead and shouted out their hosannas!
But, Jesus enters Jerusalem and weeps, because the people don’t seem to grasp what he’s truly about:
‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace!"
He said.
And as we know, those same ones who shouted Hosanna, a few short days later would shout, "Crucify him!"
Which they did..

And then there is silence….

Going back to Frozen, So often, we are like Anna, slow to wake up to what’s really going on…. Or at least I am..
Rest assured, he is God’s chosen one.
Rest assured he will be King.
but he will only be king for those who envision a different kind of Kingdom
A kingdom where wolves and lambs lay down together.
A kingdom where swords are beaten into plow shares.
Let Us Beat Swords into
Each year, on Palm Sunday, we are invited to make Jesus king of our lives and choose to follow in his way:  the way of humility, forgiveness, service, sacrifice, love and peace...
or not.

Because, even if we are silent:
"I tell you, the stones would shout out."

I love how Commerce celebrates the events of Holy Week with such intention and togetherness.
And I look forward to joining you at the wonderful events as we watch King Jesus here in Commerce over this Holy Week.  With courage and renewed vision, let us stand as we are able and affirm the faith of the church, our faith in king Jesus using a Brief Statement of Faith.
“We trust in Jesus Christ...

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