Preached by the Very Rev. Mike Kinman at Christ Church Cathedral on Palm Sunday, April 5, 2009
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethpage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and 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. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’”
I love Palm Sunday, because on Palm Sunday we give ourselves permission to have our liturgy really be what we say it is … what it really should be every Sunday. A celebration.
And that’s what I want us to ponder for a few minutes this morning. Because we have all next week to walk together through the passion Gospel we just read. In fact, if I had my way, we wouldn’t even read that on Palm Sunday. Come back Thursday. Come back Friday. We’ll walk that road together then.
But this morning we are at the party. And we are celebrating exactly what the people in Jerusalem were celebrating. That the deepest most amazing, abundant life we could ever know. A life so amazing it couldn’t just be contained by words trying to describe it but could only be expressed in the living Word, Jesus the Christ, that that life is here. Right here. Right in the middle of us. This is the moment. We’re not just waiting for Christ to come. Christ is here.
Now this isn’t new. Christ has always been here, right here in our midst, whenever two or three are gathered. And today we get to answer the question that can be the question of our whole lives.
If Christ is here. Right here. Ready to explode into our lives in new and amazing ways. Ready to change our lives and change the world. Ready to show us just how amazing and dripping with meaning and joy our lives can be!
If Christ is here, how do we respond to that?
Well, I think we take a clue from those people in Jerusalem that day. They didn’t lament that they didn’t have choirs and horns and fine silks and luxurious perfumes. They didn’t say “we don’t have enough … we just can’t do it.’ No! They brought what they had and they used it to CELEBRATE Christ … to have an amazing joyful celebration. Why? Because Christ was there and they knew that meant life was about to change. Did they know how? No. Was it about to change in the way they probably thought? No, probably not. But that didn’t matter … they still got it right. Something amazing was happening. Christ was there. This called for a party.
So the disciples used what they had – cloaks and clothes, leafy branches. They brought what they had and said to Jesus “use this.” And when there were things they needed that they didn’t have, they went and asked for it … asked for it the way Jesus told them …. with a simple statement and a promise.
The simple statement : “the Lord has need of it.”
The promise “and he will send it back immediately.”
That’s what not just this celebration is, but what our whole Christian life is. It’s opening ourselves up to respond to the life-changing presence of Christ by letting go of all that we are and all that we have and using it to honor Christ and trusting in the promise that nothing will be lost, that all will be returned to us … and that in fact it is in the act of giving that we discover the life that is worth celebrating.
With all that I have and all that I am, I honor you. If those words sound familiar, it’s because they’re straight from our marriage service. That’s what couples promise to one another when they commit to share their lives together. Why? Because we have found that when we do it right, when we use all that we have and all that we are to honor another and the other returns that trust and love, that what we receive then is a deeper and more abiding joy than we could ever have just on our own.
You know, if I could compare Palm Sunday and really all of our liturgy to one thing, I would say that it’s like a first kiss.
Just take a moment and think of a first kiss in your life. Take a second. Hold that image in your mind but also remember what that felt like in your whole body, hair to heart, stomach to toes.
What were you feeling? Come on, this is audience participation part of the program. What were you feeling?
A first kiss is spontaneous, wonderful. pulse-quickening, risky. It’s offering who we are in excitement and love.
Have you ever leaned in to give a kiss but weren’t sure you were going to get kissed back? Yeah. Take all those things and add fear. ‘Cause kissing is risky. What we’re saying with a kiss is “I love you” … and “I love you” is the riskiest thing you can possibly say because you are putting your heart on the line and giving the other person the opportunity to do whatever they want with it.
And yet that kiss when it’s returned … man, it’s the best thing going. There is NOTHING like it in the world.
And that’s what we’re about. We’re about doing what the people of Jerusalem did this day … offering what we have to a Christ who did the same … who offered himself in love to the world and gave the world the opportunity to do what it willed with him.
And we do it, we kiss Christ, we offer our lips to the world the same way those people did. With who we are and what we have.
Think of those words ‘’with all that I have and all that I am” What is that for you? Think of all your money. Think of where you live. Think of all your possessions. Think of all your gifts and talents. Think of your voice or the words or art that can pour from your head and heart through your hand onto paper or clay. Think of the story of your life. Now combine what you have and are and you have and are and everyone else at all three services today and all those who aren’t here, and all those who haven’t found this community yet but will soon and you’ve got the picture of what we’ve got to work with to throw this party, to kiss the world. This has the potential not just to be a little shindig but the blow-out bash of all time!
Now when you think about offering something important to you in love, I know the question that is on my heart is what will the response be. Will I be kissed back. And the promise of Christ is YES … I will kiss you back and it will be the best thing ever.
Where is that promise? Look at what the disciples said to the people. “The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately!” Look at what Christ said after the resurrection: Lo I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.
We don’t need to be afraid. And we do have something to celebrate. Christ is here. Right here.
And Christ’s presence reminds us that we are at our heart more than just a church, even more than just a community of faith. We are a gathering movement of proclamation and celebration. A movement to kiss the world and transform it with Christ’s love. And my friends, it is time to get moving. All of us. Together.
So what have you got?
Are you an artist?
Are you a writer?
Are you a builder?
The Lord has need of it!
Are you a great friend?
Do you have a wonderful listening ear?
Can you balance a checkbook?
Can you fry up some fish?
The Lord has need of it!
Can you fix a car?
Can you pray?
Can you write a letter to your Senator?
Can you teach a child to read?
Do you have money?
Do you have time?
Do you have a song in your heart?
Do you have a story to share?
The Lord has need of it! And you don’t need to be afraid. You’re not going to lose anything. The Lord has need of it and will return it to you immediately. Return it to you in a life you can’t beat anywhere.
This is not the time to hold back. This is not the time to say “Yeah, But…” This is the time for Hosanna. The journey of Holy Week is the journey of Christ right into the center of power … where we get changed and the world gets changed. If we are not just going to walk with Christ into the center of power, the center of the way things are … but if we are going to be that Body of Christ on that journey into the center of the way things are and let Christ work through us to turn them from the way things are into the way things oughta be, now is the moment.
It’s a celebration. It’s a party. It’s a chance to do just the best thing we can possibly do. Take what God has given us. All that we have and all that we are and use it to love Christ, to love each other, to love the world.
It’s a celebration. It’s a party. And the best news is we’re all invited. Come as you are. Bring whatever you have. Don’t be afraid. The Lord has need of it and will return it to you immediately.
It’s a celebration. It’s a party. Now is the time.
Hosanna. Hosanna. Hosanna.