Palm Sunday Sermon
Rev. Leonard Oakes
April 9, 2017
“All glory laud and honor to thee redeemer king, to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring…”
Today, we join Christians all over the world in celebrating the triumphant entry of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Holy City of Jerusalem. We come together to take part of that victorious journey by re-enacting that victorious march on which Jesus Christ and his faithful followers have displayed before the powerful city of Jerusalem. We sing our hymns and waive our branches of palms proclaiming Christ as the King of kings. We have been preparing for this for days! We have set a time for God, ourselves, our families, and our community reflecting on these acts. The blessing of the palms is not an invocation of magic, rather, as with all blessings, it is a prayer that God will save us from all threats to our lives, our holiness and our salvation. These blessed palms become symbols. They become expression that stimulates faith, hope and love. With this, we began to sing, “Hosanna in the highest, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” We proclaim that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God.
But that is not all there is in the road to Jerusalem. That victorious entry also means the beginning of the painful experience our Lord Jesus had been preparing for. We suddenly change the mood from victory to the passion of Christ. That same road is what we have been preparing for as well during this season of Lent. We were given the choice to either walk with him or walk away and we know that walking away is never the answer to become a true follower of Christ. The road to Jerusalem also leads us to the cross and eventually to the Resurrection which is the final victory.
From the beginning of our liturgical celebration today, we were not mere spectators but participants of the grand procession with the blessed palms, the hymns of praises and eventually our sharing of the Passover meal and our mission to the world is itself a sermon. We have been resolved that it is our duty to proclaim the year of the Lord from this generation, to our children and our children’s children that this experience be a living experience we meet in our everyday lives; our everyday passion, our everyday victory. Our lord Jesus Christ in this very day did not call and teach disciples and followers to have audience in his painful sufferings and death. He knows the danger that is waiting for him in Jerusalem but he is not going there and wished to appeal to the nation solemnly gathered for the festival, to follow his way and so make possible the establishment of the kingdom so that they would either repent and follow its righteousness, or exhibit themselves as disobedient. But rather, he gathered them and led them to a destiny where they can be a witness of God’s saving grace an event that is going to take place in the resurrection. It is that same grace God gave his only Son to us. Humbled himself and became one of us that he may feel and live the life we have. He obediently followed the will of the father by lifting the lives of the less fortunate, the destitute, the lonely, and the persecuted. He prepared them about the coming event of his crucifixion in the place he was born and dearly loved, the city of Jerusalem. But he also assured them that on the third day he will rise again that the world may believe and that the world may be saved. With these, he simply taught his disciples to ride on an animal that is a symbol of quietness, not on a war horse, wave palm branches not missiles and guns and bombs; the songs of children not the cries of children from suffocations of nerve gas; How can children sing the hymn “All glory laud and honor to thee redeemer king, to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring…”
Jesus taught us of love and compassion, not hate and humiliation; of kindness and understanding, not bombing of churches and mosques or temples, not of trying to inflict more pain to anyone or nation already suffering from being dispersed around the world and losing their identity, yet being despised and not welcomed and loved. These refugees wanted to go back to their homeland because they experienced a lot of bully and rejection from other nations. But how can they go back when there’s so much danger and death waiting for them?
Yes, we must show our resistance to any aggression of war and power that lead to destruction and killing of people, children and the defenseless. But tooth against tooth will lead to more destructions of people than we originally intended to resolve. The world leaders have failed diplomatic solutions because of their own political and economic interests instead of the interests of peaceful resolutions. Why can’t we all lay down our weapons and peacefully march to Jerusalem? Jesus taught us to love one another as he has loved us. He peacefully marched to enter the dens of the lions, the powerful political and religious heads in Jerusalem, to show them that Love conquers all. The Love of God conquers our indifference, our selfishness, our hunger for power, if we only allow God to enter our hearts? It may not be easy as we are used to have and do, it can be painful and may even lead us to death.
Following Christ is not always a glorious experience, it can be painful and sacrificial even to the call of death. Such road is what our lord Jesus Christ would like us to follow. We too have our own roads to Jerusalem. It may be bumpy, rocky and even muddy. Our Journey may not be glorious but at least we chose the road that is essential to our faith as followers of Christ. God has assured us that in our struggles, he will always be with us. He will always be there for us like he was with Moses and Israel in their liberation from the bondage in Egypt; Like he was with Martin Luther King and the other civil rights leaders in their struggle for equality and brotherhood; like he was with mother Theresa of Calcutta on her compassion towards the poor, as he was with those who once lived and are living for the cause of the kingdom of God. God is with His Son Jesus and He is with us now.
Whatever happens to our own transformed experience today in our reenactment of the triumphant entry of Jesus to Jerusalem, and his passion experiences, may we be made into who we truly are, the body of Christ, bread for each other and bread for the world. Let us gather more and more in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in the breaking of the bread and in our prayers for love, peace and unity of all God’s people.
Amidst all the uncertainties of the current events happening in the world, let us with steadfast love never cease to sing: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest.” And by doing so, let us not forget that all will lead us to the resurrection on Easter Sunday. Yes, to that powerful victory of the resurrection where the love of God is shown all powerful and loving. Oh blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest!!! Amen.