Palm Sunday 2020
God is good. All the time.
Yes, even at this time God is good.
God is always and forever good.
Usually there is no sermon on Palm Sunday because the entire Passion of our Lord is read by the people. (Matthew 26:14 to 27:66) Read it at home today. It is a powerful Gospel and needs no comment or reflection. But these are unusual times. Although we are sheltered in our homes, we still need to be together (and stay together) as a community of God's people. This is one way we can do that. I used to say phooey to technology because it's complicated and hard to figure out. Now I am forever grateful for technology because IT ALLOWS ME TO BE WITH YOU. I have had help and I give thanks to you who have helped me.
Now - to the Gospel for today. As I studied the Gospel story, I noticed that there were parallels to the crises we are in right now. They seem to follow similar paths. For example, Palm Sunday starts with a happy, welcoming parade into Jerusalem. As Jesus enters the city there is utter joy. The gathered crowds were sure he was the Messiah. They spread branches and garments along his way so that even the donkey would not dirty her feet as she carried Jesus forth. There was a whole chorus of people shouting "Hosanna. Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest." It was clear to everyone that He was the Messiah.
NOT FOR LONG. The story moves quickly to chaos and confusion. The betrayal of Judas. The arrest of Jesus. His trial before Caiaphas. Peter's denial of Jesus. The trial before Pilate. The suicide of Judas. The conviction and crucifixion. The agony and death of Jesus. Now very few are clear about Jesus being the Messiah. Everyone had fled. Only a few women were at the cross when he died. Chaos and confusion have taken over.
NOT FOR LONG. Clarity and commitment return as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea take the body of Jesus down from the cross. They wrapped his wounded body in spices in a linen cloth and lay it in the tomb. They were clear in their love for Him and in their belief that He was indeed the Messiah AND their friend.
The story moves from clarity and commitment to confusion and chaos and back to clarity and commitment.
The coronavirus is on a similar trajectory. Before the virus we were clear that we lived in the strongest country in the world......that little could harm or destroy us.......that our resources were the best in the world. Since the virus has spread like wildfire through our country, we see we are victims of the same ills that plague the rest of the world, that our resources have been inadequate, and that there is a lot that can harm and destroy us. We are, at the moment, in the middle of chaos and confusion as each state decides how it will handle the situation and what resources it has. Many have not had nearly enough. Staying isolated at home can protect and keep us safe. But, right now there is little else that can. It's good - but ultimately it isn't enough to stop the virus dead in its tracks.
It will pass, and clarity will return. The clarity we see will be the love and commitment of Easter morning AND of all the people who risked their lives to care for our lives. You know who they are - our health care workers,our first responders, our grocery store workers, our truck drivers who deliver the food and supplies we continue to have - to name just a few. There are many, many more. Did you see on television this week the New York City Fire Department out in full force clapping hands and banging pots and pans in front of Elmhurst Hospital.....clapping for all the workers inside who are on the front line of the pandemic? It made me cry.
Just as the Palm Sunday parade was a parade of hope and devotion to Jesus - the Fire Department and people of NYC formed a parade of love and devotion in support of doctors and nurses and aides and janitors etc. etc. etc.
2,000 years ago and today there are people who went from clarity and calm to chaos and confusion back to clarity and calm. The ultimate and final return to clarity and calm .... is ... the Resurrection: the assurance of eternal life in Jesus Christ - the peace that passes all understanding no matter what ......the Love that conquers death - the gateway to eternal life.
So go to Trinity/Milledgeville today or tomorrow. Pick up the packet of palms that has been lovingly prepared for you - on the table in the Narthex. The door will be open for you. As you drive home, wave your palm out the window of your car. You and I are clear. Calm will return. Health will return. Peace will return. IT WILL BE EASTER.
GOD IS GOOD. ALL THE TIME.
See you next Sunday on both churches Facebook pages. If you don't have Facebook it will be on the church website AND in your mail at the next newsletter.