Tuesday, April 28, 2009

just some little things...

So I was listening to NPR the other day, and heard a story about torture, and how some people are saying that the President should NOT have declassified the "torture memos" (which he said might as well be declassified since they'd all been in the media already) because, and I quote, "now we've told the enemy how far we're willing to go--we've shown them the line we're not willing to cross."

And this is a bad thing.

Umm...

Isn't there a line we shouldn't be willing to cross?  And shouldn't people know what that line is?  Not because the "enemy" will know how to withstand all our interrogation, but because human beings should know that they will be treated as human beings even when they're in custody under suspicion.

Don't even get me started on the strange, illogical (to me) difference in the treatment of torture and of stem cell research. bizarre.

In other news, RCLPC is about to enter a season of dialogue in which we will talk about the Amendment B "issue" in the PCUSA and explore the possibility of becoming a member of the Covenant Network.  Voting to rewrite Amendment B has been going on throughout the PCUSA, and just last week failed.  While I sort of expected it to fail, I'm still disappointed.  But then again, it just shows how important talking about this is, how important the work of the Covenant Network is, and how important a step our congregation is taking by being open about our conversation.

For non-presby-speakers, Amendment B is the part of our PCUSA constitution that bars gay and lesbian people from serving in ordained offices in the church.  Well, that's it's purpose, really, and how it has been used.  It actually says (in addition to the famous fidelity-or-chastity clause) that "anyone who refuses to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin" (or something like that) can't serve in an ordained office.  Which, for the record, lets out probably 99% of pastors and elders and deacons currently serving.  Possibly more.

For the record, I believe that the current language of Amendment B is bad polity.  It's poorly written, it's unenforceable, and it's inconsistent with the rest of the constitution (including the highly esteemed first chapter or two of the book of order).  I also believe that the current language of Amendment B is bad theology.  The previous paragraph (6.0106a) and the ordination vows clear lay out the requirements for ordained officers, and they include things like faithfulness to God, effort to live a faithful life, and willingness to listen to God's call--all noticeably absent from G-6.0106b.  And our actual foundation (not the constitution, not even the book of confessions), scripture, has so many examples of unlikely people being called to do God's work, so many examples of the outcast being brought in, so many examples of human beings getting it wrong when it comes to leaders of the community.  And there's the whole business where the confessions say "councils err, don't assume these are the right words for all time" should probably also be a clue.  Last but not least, the pragmatic: I don't believe that I can exclude someone with obvious gifts and call from leadership on the basis that who they are is somehow inferior--am I more likely to be asked why I let people in or why I kept people out?

Also for the record: I took ordination vows in which I said I would uphold the constitution of the church (or something to that effect!).  That doesn't mean I won't work to change it when I think it's wrong.  

One last for the record: I don't believe in forcing people to think like me.  I also don't believe in other people forcing me to think like them. If you disagree with my thinking on this, I'm happy to hear from you and to talk.  But I'm not willing to accept treating of other people as less than human, less than made in the image of God, less than called, or more sinful than me or you. 

I don't know how this conversation is going to go in our congregation, but I'm excited to have it.  Our new mission statement calls the church "an ever-widening circle of grace" and I'm hopeful that we will have grace-filled dialogue as we consider our next steps.  I do believe there's room in the circle for people of differing opinion.  I do believe there's room in the circle for people of differing gifts.  I do believe there's room in the circle for all of us, in other words.  That's what an ever-widening circle is about, right?  

This season of dialogue includes two "classes," one movie night ("For The Bible Tells Me So") and one town-hall meeting.  It should be a good time.

See, just some little light things, right?

In other news, my cats are cute, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me by podcast is awesome, and I'm still reading that series about ancient Rome.

I think that's all for now...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

An Open Book--a sermon on Luke 24.36-48 for Easter 3B

Rev. Teri Peterson
RCLPC
An Open Book
Luke 24.36-48
April 26 2009, Easter 3B

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”



Can’t you practically see the disciples’ eyes bugging out as they watch to see whether Jesus really eats, whether they can see the fish going through his system like a ghost, whether this solid matter has a strange interaction with a misty incorporeal form? But nope, it’s just Jesus, hungry after a lot of walking, enjoying the fruit of his fishermen friends’ labors. Not a ghost, even in the visible Harry-Potter-type-way, not a hallucination, though they must have all felt crazy…just Jesus, their friend, alive again when he was dead just yesterday.

They’d been gathered in the room, listening to the stories from the walk to Emmaus, hearing about hearts on fire, broken bread, opened eyes. But when their own eyes beheld something impossible, still their minds could not take it in. Our human minds are always just a little bit smaller than the greatness of God, aren’t they? And we’re always trying to fit everything into our logical boxes, but with Jesus that’s no longer possible. He has very decisively burst out of the boxes, out of the rational mind, out of the tomb.

Jesus’ response to this problem, to the evident terror mingled with joy mingled with wonder—the classic “I can’t believe it!!!” response—is not just to show the disciples his hands, and is not just to have a snack, but to follow that up with a gift: a story, told to minds newly opened to the possibilities of a changed world. Jesus tells his own story, yet again, beginning with Moses and coming down through the ages. He opens the book and tells the story, complete with living pictures, and the disbelieving joy turns to wonder at the love God has for the world, and has always had for the world, that the story should go like this.

We sometimes use the word “story” as a way to blow things off—it’s “just a story.” Underneath, we mean, stories aren’t real life, they aren’t worth much, they aren’t “true.” But that’s not quite right, is it? All of life is a story, from the beginning of time until now, through us and beyond. Our lives are made up of stories, and taken together they make up a bigger story. God is telling the story of a beloved creation, through the mouths of a beloved people—a story that started before we can imagine and goes on farther than our minds can stretch. Moses and the prophets and the kings were a part of the story, Jesus on earth and Jesus alive again are part of the story, the disciples were part of the story. Just because it’s a good story doesn’t mean it’s not true—in fact, the gift Jesus gives the disciples gathered in that upper room is the understanding that the story may be the only thing that is true.

It’s unbelievable, of course. The story doesn’t make any sense. No one who was dead comes back to life. Love does not lead to pain and death. Only by the gift of the Holy Spirit can the disciples’ minds be opened to understand. But once their minds are opened, nothing can ever be the same.

I know, I said the same thing last week, and the same thing the week before, but I really do believe it’s true: the message of Easter, the terrifying, unbelievable, outrageous message of Easter is that nothing can ever be the same. The story has taken an unexpected turn, a crazy plot twist, and cannot go back to the way it was before. God has come to earth, has taken on flesh and blood, has experienced life and love and sorrow and pain and death, and has come back from all of that to tell us that love will always win.

Of course, the world looks almost nothing like love is winning. We have war, we have poverty, we have violence in our schools and communities, we have grief and loss, we have exclusion and hate. We sometimes have eyes and ears and minds and hearts that are closed against so many things that not even good news can slip through. But Jesus comes to open our minds to understand the scriptures, to hear the story through fresh ears, to see the impossible come true, to know that God’s love is stronger than the big stone at the entrance to the tomb. Where we thought the story had ended, a whole new chapter has begun.

And then Jesus says the thing that makes this story a perpetual page turner: “and you are witnesses of these things.” Witnesses? Well, yes, we saw it happen—years of wandering, teaching, healing, storytelling, eating, sharing, loving. But witnesses do more than just see—they tell. They exhibit. They share.

This is the third gift in the story—first came the greeting of peace, then the opening of minds and hearts, and now the title, the commission, the assignment: witnesses.

In other words, our task is to continue the story. To wander and teach and heal and tell stories and eat and love. To widen the circle of grace until all are drawn in. To hope. To share. What good is a mind and heart opened to understand if we won’t share our understanding? What good is a gift of peace if we don’t make peace wherever we can? What good is a gift of love so great it can conquer death if all we do is hide in an upper room and discuss amongst ourselves? The story needs witnesses, people to continue walking through the pages, passing on the message, seeing where the plot goes, looking for the Spirit’s leading. And those witnesses are the body of Christ—meant to be an open book for the world to read.

I wonder what our book will say? I hope it will be a book about love—a book of friends in Christ, caring for one another, sharing our lives together, being open about who we are and our struggles and our joys. I hope it will be a book about grace—a story of acceptance and hope, of traveling life’s road together, telling stories to strangers as well as friends. I hope it will be a book that witnesses to the mystery of a God who makes the world different—who bursts out of the tomb, full of life and light and love, changing everything.

Christ is risen, and nothing will ever be the same, yet the story goes on. May we be witnesses to these things.

Amen.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

On the Road Again--a guided meditation on Luke 24.13-35 for Easter 2

Rev. Teri Peterson
RCLPC
On the Road Again
Luke 24.13-35
April 19 2009, Easter 2B (off lectionary)


(open the eyes of my heart, lord)

It looks like any other road,
this road we are walking today.
I invite you to close your eyes,
sit up straight with your feet on the floor,
be comfortable.
Breathe in deeply, and out slowly.
Do you see the road?

What kind of road is it?

What do you see?

What do you hear?

Are there other people on the road?

What is the weather like?

How fast do you want to walk today?

Leave the city, one foot in front of the other,
sandals tamping down dust,
even as grief washes from head to toe.
Nothing went the way we thought.
And today’s news is even more unbelievable than last week’s.

alive?
is it possible?
why can’t I see him?

One foot in front of the other,
walking home,
on just another road,
any road—it doesn’t matter now.
Nothing matters—no journey will ever be the same without him.
but where is he?

(open the eyes of my heart, lord)

Just another road,
like any other road.
Can you see it?
One foot in front of the other,
on the road again,
but alone this time.

A stranger comes alongside you.
Do you talk to strangers?

He walks near you for a ways,
in comfortable silence…
and then asks the question:
what are you thinking about?

What will you tell him?
What are you thinking about?
It’s been an amazing three years—
healings,
miracles,
parables,
feeding people,
restoring community,
telling stories,
loving outcasts.
Which story to tell?

Think of your favorite story about Jesus.
Tell it to this stranger as you walk along this dusty road,
one foot in front of the other.



This stranger listens well,
he asks questions,
he nods in all the right places,
and he can tell that the story makes you both excited and sad.


As you finish telling your story,
you mention that it doesn’t make much sense.
Things seemed to be going so well until that last night,
that last dinner,
that Passover Party.
That’s when the real questions began.
Sure, other things didn’t always make sense…
but broken body, life poured out,
arrested,
beaten,
crucified,
killed…
and now alive again?



The stranger looks at you as you walk down the road,
thinking out loud.
What are your questions?
Keep wondering out loud together as you walk,
one foot in front of the other,
through the dust,
wondering.



(open the eyes of my heart, lord)

As you come to the end of your questions,
your voice trails off
and both of you stare down the road,
walking slowly together.
Then this stranger begins to tell a story of his own…
but it’s a story you know well,
except this time it begins to make a little bit of sense.
Just a little bit.
Grief and confusion are still there,
but now there’s something new…
something warm…
something blooming in the desert.
Listen—
what story is he telling you?



As he finishes his story,
you look up and realize you’re almost home.
You’ve just met this strange man,
this storyteller,
this listener,
this fellow traveler,
but you invite him in for dinner.
There’s something about him…
And as you sit down at the table,
he offers thanks for a journey safely completed,
for new friends,
for hospitality,
for a simple meal of bread and cheese.

and as he takes some bread and offers you a piece,
you see.
He’s been with you all along,
transforming the journey,
making it part of the story,
part of God’s story,
part of our journey together.
On the road,
an ordinary road,
any road like any other,
yet unlike any other.

He’s alive!
is it possible?
You see him!
Hurry, on the road again…
What will you tell the others?



(open the eyes of my heart, lord)



Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

off to the sun

okay, I'm headed to the land of sun, but without my computer. see you in a week....

happy Easter!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What if it's true? -- a meditation for Easter

Rev. Teri Peterson
What if it’s True?
RCLPC
Mark 16.1-8
April 12 2009, Easter

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.


“They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” That’s it? That’s all we’ve got? Is that any way to end a story? No happy ending, tied up in a pretty little bow? No wrap-up, no recap, no “the end”? I’d grown to expect better from Mark, a man who knew how to tell a story.

But then again, the beginning of his gospel seems to be missing something too—he starts just by saying “the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” No manger scene, no wise men, no shepherds. Just “the beginning of the good news.” And here we are, seemingly at the end of the gospel, the good news, and all we get is “terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

I don’t know about you, but fear is not an emotion I tend to equate with Easter. Sure, it’s what the women and the other disciples must have been feeling on Thursday night, on Friday, even on Saturday—that fear that comes with grief: wondering how things could have gone so wrong, if they could have done something differently, what to do now. That’s a fear I understand. Even that Sunday morning, walking to the tomb, I understand fear—fear of not being able to open the tomb, fear of seeing the body again, fear that this final act of care for another will somehow make this whole nightmare more…well…final.

But then comes the next shock in a string of shocking days: He Is Not Here.

This pronouncement by the angel seems like the best news ever—The angel reminds us that Jesus said he would be back, he would live again, and now he’s not in the tomb! Isn’t that great? There should be laughter and cheers and tears of joy! But instead we get terror and amazement, fear and silence.

Why? Why terror and fear? Why not tell anyone? Why end the story this way?

I don’t know what the women were thinking that morning when they ran away in fear. I don’t know what most of us are thinking when we run away from good news either. I do know what I would be thinking if I were those women, though:

What if it’s true?

What if the grave wasn’t robbed but God has truly broken the bonds of death?

What if it’s true that Jesus, who was dead, is now alive, having burst out of the tomb, and is now cavorting around in Galilee?

What if it’s true, what we’ve been saying all these weeks together—that God is doing a NEW THING, even now it springs forth…can’t we see it?

If all those things are true, then the things Jesus said and did must be true too, and the things he asked us to do, the calling he gave us, the standard he set, the love he poured on us and commanded us to share—those must also be true.

And now I’m just as scared as those women must have been!

If it’s true, if Christ is alive, then nothing in the world is what we thought. Death is not the final word. Darkness does not win. Hate and violence are powerless. Even though the world looks the same—it’s not. Nothing is the same on a morning like this. And then, once you know that, what do you say? We can’t just run back to the disciples, or into the Temple, or out into the streets, and say “guess what? Jesus is alive again and everything is great!” There’s a reason the story doesn’t end like that.

Instead, the story ends with silence. The women run away and say nothing to anyone. But even without words, their story gets out. Once God has broken the bonds of death, there’s no WAY we can expect God to keep quiet! God isn’t willing to stay in the tomb, and God isn’t willing to stay in our nice little boxes constructed out of fear, either. God is out, alive, dancing around the world, making everything different. And we know it—we have walked through pain, we have been blinded by grief, we have been frustrated and angry and anxious, but we still know it, because we, too, have witnessed resurrection, that awesome power God has to do THE new thing, whether we’re looking or not, even if we’re silent in our fear.

Even without words, the story gets out. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here today, would we? Yet here we are, whether in fear or joy, part of the story of God’s love that smashed all our notions of how the world works. Here we are, part of the circle of God’s grace that just keeps widening, in spite of our fear, in spite of our timid voices, in spite of our failings. What if it’s true? What if nothing is the way we thought? What if God is still doing a new thing, still breaking bonds, still shattering stones, still shedding graveclothes? Will we leave this place to continue the story?

Because it’s not over, you know. Mark doesn’t give us an ending because, as he said in his first sentence, he’s only telling the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Fear, death, and loss are not the last words. The good news—news of love, grace, and hope—keeps going. Christ is risen indeed!
Alleluia!
Amen.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Holy Week

It's holy week (or holy cow! week...or other words besides "cow"...).

In fact, it's Wednesday of Holy Week.

Two days down, five days to go.

Five days that include one Wednesday evening program (including a class taught by me), a Maundy Thursday/Passover service--a Seder complete with feast, and a communion service after (coordinated and led by me...no idea how I'm going to pull that off), and a Good Friday service (partially led by me...all ready to go). Those five days also include cleaning my house, shopping for cat food, going to yoga class, getting my first pedicure of the season (thank GOD), watching Dollhouse so I don't get behind, toasting "bonus years" with a friend/congregation member (Friday is the day he will officially have lived longer than his own father), laundry, writing a meditation for NEXT Sunday, finding a catsitter, and packing.

Oh yeah, and writing a sermon for Easter.

Thank God for family who live in Southern California who will take me in when I need to get away and when I find a cheap flight.

And thank God for the San Diego Zoo panda cam.

Okay, I'm getting to work, I swear. I really am. No, really, look at me working...

Holy Week, batman!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Hosanna--a sermon for Palm Sunday B

there's nothing quite like a complete re-write that starts at 1230am!

Rev. Teri Peterson
RCLPC
Hosanna
Mark 11.1-11
5 April 2009, Palm Sunday B

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, Jesus 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.’” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
“Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.



Hosanna! Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!
It does sound like a throng of pilgrims on their way to the biggest festival of the year, doesn’t it?
It was nearly Passover, the time of remembering and celebrating God’s power, God’s faithfulness, God’s bringing the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery. The time when everyone who possibly could made their way to the Temple for the celebration. The time when a lamb would be sacrificed, unleavened bread baked, songs sung in praise of the God who rescued the people.
And on the way to the holy city, the crowds would sing, recite psalms, and tell stories. On the way to the holy city, pilgrims would cut branches and trade recipes. On the way to the holy city, people coming together in the name of the Lord would celebrate together with shouting and dancing.
Hosanna! Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!
In the midst of this crowd comes Jesus, in a carefully staged parade. Not on a mighty warhorse, but on a donkey’s colt, feet dragging on the ground, bumping along with the jerky movements of a fool’s animal. No armed escort, no gleaming shields and helmets, no parting of the crowds to let the king through. No symbols of military power, no symbols of empire, nothing to confuse him with Rome. Just a man on a donkey, riding toward the holy city.
Hosanna! Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!
He’s a popular rabbi. He’s a known healer and miracle worker. He’s a great teacher. There are whispers he might be the Messiah, the one to rescue them from Roman oppression, the one to crush the powers that be with a mighty hand. And now, at Passover, at the celebration when we remember God’s power to save us from slavery in Egypt, comes a man to save us from yet another cruel political and military power.
Hosanna! Save us, Lord! the people plead, even as they affirm “God saves us!”
Messiah, anointed one, God’s chosen. To the people in that crowd, that means military hero, mighty warrior, powerful king. When he rides into the city, they wave palm branches, they shout praises, they shout pleas. They line the street with coats so his feet don’t get muddy, they fan him with leaves, they cheer like they would for a king returning victorious from battle. They hope—no, they expect great things, a better-than-Roman-style general’s triumph through the streets of the city to the governor’s palace, mighty deeds of power that end years of humiliation, objectification, and oppression.
Hosanna! Lord, save us! Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord! Long live our Messiah, our warrior king!
Jesus, parading into the holy city, parody of a Roman victory procession, knows God saves. Jesus, vulnerable and looking ridiculous, chooses to make fun of military power, showing its inability to save people, just at the moment people place all their expectations on him. Hosanna, they cry, save us!
From what do we want to be saved?
Fear? Anxiety? Hopelessness? Grief? Anger? Illness? Desire? Hatred?
What do we think life will be like when the Lord has saved us?
Bright and cheery? Without any bad things happening? No more sin, no more death, no more worries because the blood of a sacrifice has set us free, rescued us from something awful?
What happens when our expectations, our hopes and fears projected on another person, are not met?
Hosanna! the crowd cries. Save us from Rome!
And Jesus goes into the Temple alone, looks around, and quietly leaves the way he came.
This anti-climax begins to turn the tide from Hosanna! Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord! to whispers, then shouts, of Crucify! Crucify this one who did not meet our expectations! Crucify this one we have so misunderstood. We thought he was the one to rescue us.
But what if the kind of salvation Jesus brings, the kind of salvation we need, isn’t another rescue from another cruel political leader?
Hosanna! Save us! the people shout. And Jesus, in his parody parade, does exactly that, but not the way we expect, not the way we want, but the way we need. He comes. He comes into the city, into the houses, into the crowd. He shares our life, he shares our joys and our sorrows, he shares our death. God comes, in the flesh, to be with us, to give us courage and strength, to walk with us on the journey. God comes, not with political power and military might, not with coercion and crushing, not with violence that only begets more violence, but with compassion, with care, with love.
Hosanna! we shout—save us! come again into our lives, into our world, into our community, and walk with us the road of this world’s suffering and this world’s joy. Redeem us, make us whole again, reconcile us to one another, help us to love and serve.
Hosanna! Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!
In some traditions these words are part of the Communion prayer—evidence that God’s story doesn’t always go the way we expect. We say these words with palm branches waving, and then pray them on the way to a table where we remember again that we, together, are the body of Christ, the ones who come in the name of the Lord, the hands and feet of the one who saves us by coming into the world to share a common life.
May it be so.
Amen.