Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

The Haunting

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April 1st:

April 1, 2012   (Palm/Passion Sunday)
Call:           Mark 11: 1-11
Text:           Mark 15: 1-20
Closing:        Mark 15: 40-47

                                The Haunting

When I try to envision Christ's entry into Jerusalem,
The moving picture that first appears in my mind
is accompanied by celebratory music
        sometimes it is circus type music
        sometimes it is martial music
        sometimes it is Hail to the Chief
        sometimes it is a triumphant hymn
                like "Victory in Jesus"

When that picture first comes into my mind
        I feel joyful
        I feel triumphant
I am a happy guy.

I picture the people being happy too
        Seeing Jesus as God's emissary
        Seeing Jesus as the one who is to reestablish David's kingdom
                And, like Moses, to set God's people free.

I see the children waving palm branches in the parade that begins spontaneously.

I see the people accepting Jesus' leadership
        Not only with their hosannas
        But also by surrendering their cloaks
                For him to sit on
                For him to ride over

I see the surrendered cloaks as an act of humility and gratitude
        And as a way of declaring themselves to be his subjects.

What an experience!
Can't you picture it?
Don't you wish that you had been there?
        I do - when that moving picture come to my mind.

But then I see
        That not everyone is shouting hosannas
        That not everyone has a smile on his face
        That not everyone's reaction to Jesus
                Is one of joy, happiness, and celebration.

And thus the music changes

It becomes the music of impending danger

I no longer hear circus music or martial music
        I start to hear music for a Hitchcock film
        Or music for a movie based on a Stephen King novel

I no longer hear the triumph of "Victory In Jesus"
        I now begin to recognize the haunting melody and words
                Of "We Sang Our Glad Hosannas"

Even as I listen to the crowd shout out hosannas
        I know that not all is well.

I see men - important men - gritting their teeth
        To avoid being the subject of the crowd's anger
If they express what they really want to say.
I see men - powerful men - talking with each other
        With conspiratorial whispers
        And evil in their eyes.

I see men
        Angry men;      Jealous men;    Threatened men
        Who want this guy Jesus out of the way
        And want things to go back to how they were
                Before he arrived to heal, teach, and forgive.

And then as the moving picture in my mind jumps ahead, I see what is in store for the man on the donkey
        Whose presence and entry on Palm Sunday
                So excited the people
        That they shouted those hosannas
        And surrendered those cloaks.

And I see a series of upcoming events
        First an arrest of the one whose entry was so celebrated
        Then an appearance before the official in charge
Followed by an well orchestrated and mean spirited rejection of an offered compromise

I see the man mocked
I see him being led to the cross.

Mark tells us about these.      [Mark 15: 1-20]

And so this man who was so joyfully received early in the week
        Was led to the cross of pain and shame late in the week

This man who heard crowds shouting hosannas as the week began
        Heard them shout, "Give us Barabbas" as the week progressed
                And he knew that those shouting
                Had chosen to save the life of a murderer
                        Rather than to save his.

This man who had palms and cloaks spread before him
        Had soldiers mock him, strike him, and spit upon him
                Only a few days afterwards

This man who had been proclaimed as a savior sent by God
        Now was seen as a failure who had been ignored by God.

I who was a happy guy when the movie in my mind began
        Have become a haunted guy by the way it played out.

That's heavy - real heavy.
So let's momentarily change the tone.

How many of you remember "Laugh In?"

I ask a question of those of you who do,
"What did Dan Rowen and Dick Martin have in common with Palm Sunday?"

The answer is the word "fickle."

Dan and Dick regularly handed out the "Fickle Finger of Fate" award.

Palm Sunday began a week that might qualify it for
The "Fickle Finger of Faith" award.

The same community that shouted "hosannas"
        Shouted "Crucify Him!"

How much more fickle can you get?
But that was then       and this is now.
You and I would never have turned on him.       Of course not.

Just look at us
        We have proclaimed Christ to be our savior
        And we listen to him all the time.              Of course we do.

Whenever we make a decision
        Particularly a difficult decision
                We don't go along with the crowd
                We make our own decisions
                        Based on how he has guided us.  Of course we do

But just in case we might be somewhat uncomfortable with that
        "Of Course" trilogy,

Let us determine this week to allow the haunting aspects of the story
        To continue to haunt us
        To become a part of us.

For if we do
        Then maybe, just maybe,
        You and I will continue to shout
"He is Lord.  Hosanna in the highest."
        And not allow our faith to be so fickle
                That we silently shout "Crucify Him."
                        To please others
                        Or simply by ignoring him.