Reading: Matthew 21:1-11
Do you have a friend who wants to tell you a story and the last thing we want to do is HEAR let alone the FULL version of it?
One of my oldest and dearest friends has a special talent for “going off script.”
She can be in the middle of telling a story (a very LONG story), and then go off on a tangent.
Over time, when she was about to take us to Tangentville, I would actually start to snap my fingers and yell “Tangent! Tangent!” just to get her back on course.
Why am I telling you about my friend?
Because I want to explain why we celebrate Palm Sunday and not Palm and Passion Sundays together.
It is important to know that today we are getting the beginning of a story.
One that I believe cannot be told in one worship service.
This is a story with a beginning, middle and an end.
This story is called: “Holy Week.”
And it starts today with Palm Sunday.
We begin with Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
Next week we celebrate Jesus’ triumph over Sin and Death.
But there is more to the story than triumph.
We get the MIDDLE section: the Tangents:
- The moments of dread and betrayal of Maundy Thursday and
- The pain, the suffering, and the emptiness of Good Friday.
And I believe there is something to the idea of pain and dread being surrounded by joy and celebration.
Because that is the Story of God:
- In the beginning, all was good.
- Then came the fall.
- Then there was pain.
- There was desertion, not on God’s part, but on our’s.
- And in the end, all will be good again, it will be great
Thanks be to God through Jesus the Christ.
So I believe we should celebrate Palm Sunday on its own because we are celebrating the beginning of the end.
The second reason goes beyond Biblical or Theological reasons.
A year ago, I came across a speech from Dr. Douglas Rushkoff, a media theorist.
Dr. Rushkoff was speaking about his book, Present Shock, which looks into our culture’s obsession with the Present.
A lot comes from this new digital age we are in.
From iPhones, to iPads, to Facebook, to Twitter, you name it, we love the idea of being able to be connected
But this new focus on the present has led to a BIG problem:
How Do We As A Culture Read?
People want to read like they listen to music.
Not albums but singles.
Bits and pieces.
They want blogs not magazines.
They want photos not words.
Reading like this causes an even bigger problem in Dr. Rushkoff’s opinion:
People end up reading in order to dismiss.
We read something in order to dismiss it and move on to the next thing.
We do not read to absorb.
We read to get it over with.
And I believe this has crept into the church.
For many years Palm Sunday and the Passion were TWO distinct events.
But when attendance began to dwindle for events like Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigils,
The Church felt like it had to do something in order to ACCOMODATE a changing culture.
So rather than TWO events, we have ONE.
The church thought it was good to cut the story.
And in a span of an hour, maybe an hour-fifteen minutes, the congregation goes from Jesus’ day of joy to Jesus’ day of pain and suffering.
And I can’t help but think when we do this we are just trying to get Holy Week done as quick and painless as possible.
We dismiss the tangents to the story of joy and celebration.
We dismiss the pain and the hurt.
Because we have other things to do.
We have busy lives.
And church…worship… is not a priority for many of us.
Church is now a calendar item that has a set time to begin and end.
One day a week.
Sometimes once a month or once a year.
We Christians don’t have time to wait, and to ponder, and REMEMBER what Jesus went through on our behalf.
So I say we make the time.
We make the effort to give this week the respect it deserves.
And we give God the time, the respect, and the ATTENTION that He deserves.
And we can start by noticing how Jesus did not rush things.
He did not come down to us, and quickly head to Jerusalem to die.
No, he had to change the lives of the people around him.
He had to change the lives of Pharisees, fishermen, soldiers, lepers, blind men, women, and foreigners.
He had to show them that they all mattered to God.
Jesus had to show them that He loved them.
And that kind of mission takes time.
That kind of love takes attention, dedication, and sacrifice.
This is the kind of love that we need to hear.
This is the story that needs to be told.
This is the story that needs to be shared.
This is the story of a God who made time in His schedule for us.
Can’t we do the same for him?