March 25, 2018, Palm Sunday, Hosannah! and…Betrayal – Mtr. Kathryn Boswell

To listen to this sermon, click here:  Z0000070

On Palm Sunday, it is our tradition to preach the sermon to each other,reading together the Passion of our Lord, as it was recorded for us by those for whom it was a very recent event. For Mark, who wrote down the eyewitness account of Peter, the crucifixion of Jesus was as recent an event as the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center is for us. But as life-changing and earth-shattering as 9/11 was, the death of Jesus on the cross was infinitely more so.

We began the celebration on this day by re-enacting the joyful welcome that Jesus received as he entered Jerusalem for the last time. We blessed the palms and we carried them in procession, remembering how the people lined the streets as he rode in on the foal of a donkey, just as the prophets had predicted. We repeated the words of the children, who cried out, “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” And now we read the Passion.

If we had never attended a Palm Sunday service before, we might think that the whole thing is schizophrenic, a case of the most unbelievable mood swings. And we would be right. It is only in our familiarity with the story of the Passion that we might possibly miss it: that the storyline of this day is about betrayal, on a cosmic scale.

And betrayal is something we all, I think, have some first-hand experience with. Betrayals, whether they are extreme and violent or small and mean, share this one characteristic – that they come from someone we had good reason to trust, someone from whom we had every right to expect good and not evil, kindness and not cruelty, faithfulness and not deceit.

Every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we ask God to forgive our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. And in my experience, one of the very hardest things to forgive is when we, or someone we love, have been betrayed. We might give it all over to God today, and six months, or a year, or ten years from now, a word or a photograph or a memory brings the pain and anger rushing back in full force, so that we have to forgive all over again. Betrayal is hard to forgive, and for most of us, it’s a long, long work in progress.

On this day, Palm Sunday, we remind one another that our Lord willingly suffered not only physical pain and injustice, but also the bitter pain of betrayal by those to whom he came in love, by those whose children he had blessed, by those with whom he had shared meals, by those whom he had fed, and taught, and healed – by his own brothers and sisters and friends, of whom we are a part.

Jesus has truly suffered in every way, as we have.

In his suffering, he chose to know fully, the full extent of what we have endured.

In his Passion, the heart of Jesus goes out to you.

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