Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
12:00pm Fellowship
Pastor Rev. Brooke Newell
Secretary Donna McDonald
315-265-7474

Looking Up - And Down

Listen to the Sermon or the Entire Service

March 24th:

Looking Up - And Down
Call: Luke 19: 28-40
Text: Luke chapters 22 and 23; Isaiah 50:6
Read: Psalm 118: 14-20


         Looking Up - And Down

Today we begin a week that should be
a time of inspiration and renewal
a time of smiles and tears, of cheers and jeers
a time of transformation that
   deepens our faith and strengthens our relationship with God

It should be a time that
    Causes us to experience the whole gamut of emotions

   Sadness, distress, disappointment
   Fear, discomfort, and disbelief

   Relief, joy, triumph,
Amazement, awe, gratitude

It should be.
It should be!

But   I fear that it won't be.
For I think people today have a problem with Holy Week.

The problem is simple:  we know the story too well.

We know the story so well that we take it for granted
   and become almost    indifferent       to it.

We have heard it so many times
that, for many,   it has lost its impact.

We are so familiar with it
   That we nod our heads in agreement as we give it lip service
      While only half listening to it

We sometimes seem like people
   Who disconnect from a TV show or movie, because
      "Oh, I have seen this before."

That may well be all right - even wise -
   When it comes to TV shows and movies

But it is wrong;  It is seriously wrong
   When it comes to the scriptures
   Especially the Holy Week scriptures.

For in doing so, what we are really saying is,
   "God, tell us a new story.
This one has gotten boring.
I am tired of it."

[pause]

May I have a volunteer who is willing to tell that to God?

Will any of you volunteer to tell God
that the story of Christ's death and resurrection
   is boring      and that you are tired of it?

I refuse to do that
And I do not see anyone jumping up to volunteer to do so.


If that is the case - and I believe that it is,
   You and I had better start working on
the way we receive the story
the way we take in the story
and   The way we listen to the story.

You and I had better make an effort to understand the story
   And allow it to mean something more to us
      Than an old familiar story
      That we have to fit into our lives
         Along with all the important stuff.

We need to
   Hear the story with our whole being
      With our emotions as well as with our brains
      With our hearts as well as with our ears

One way to do this is
for us to start   to look at  and to listen to
the story of Holy week
   including Palm/Passion Sunday
from the perspective of the disciples.

For we are their successors
   As his followers and his students,
as his servants and his emissaries.

I am suggesting that you and I
read and hear the story of Holy Week
as though we are the disciples
   who came to the original Holy Week
      having dropped their nets
and whatever else they had been doing
in order to follow Jesus.

I am suggesting that you and I
   Read and hear the story of Holy Week
As though we are the disciples
   Who had left their families and friends to travel with him
      Throughout and around Galilee and Samaria
      And ultimately to Jerusalem.

I am suggesting that you and I
   Read and hear the story of Holy Week
As though we are the disciples
Who had eaten with him and walked with him
Who had dedicated themselves to learning all they could from him
Who were convinced that he was the Messiah who had been promised and sent
      To free Jerusalem    from rule and control by others

I am suggesting that you and I
   Read and hear the story of Holy Week
As though we are the disciples
   Who had committed themselves to follow and to serve him.
   Who saw him as a remarkable friend and mentor
   Whose hope was based on nothing less.
      Than his love, his friendship,   and his authority

I am suggesting that you and I
   Read and hear the story of Holy Week
As though we are the disciples
   Who loved this guy Jesus
and who sacrificed everything else to be with him.

For "committed Christians" -
   Need to be able to relate emotionally like the twelve
   And the others - men and women - who followed him.

And so, if we want this time of the year to have an impact
On our hearts and on our minds,
We need to transport ourselves into and among
Those first century followers
And travel with them through Christ's week,

We will be doing so for the next several days

No!   I can't say that "we will."
I had better say that
Holy Week presents us with the opportunity to do so.

Whether we do so  or not   is up to each of us.

If we choose to,
then, we need to allow ourselves
to experience not only the acts of the week
but also,   the emotions and the feelings of the week
            Without distance or disconnect

We begin that process today with Christ's entry into Jerusalem.

It has been three years since we packed up our nets
   And set out on this journey
We have spent nearly every day of those three years with Jesus

We have seen him heal.
We have heard him teach
We have observed him forgive.

Now he sends a couple of us out to get a colt
- a young donkey actually -
for him to ride into Jerusalem   to celebrate the Passover.


We are a bit anxious
   For we do not know what will happen if confronted while taking possession of the colt.
   But when things go just as he said they would
      We return with the colt
feeling both relief that we had not been arrested
      And   awe that he had known exactly what to say & do

Then I suspect that as we see this impressive full grown man
ride into Jerusalem on a young donkey
He had to have looked a bit,  well ... incongruous
   And a touch of amusement had to come upon us

But not only amusement - also embarrassment
   For certainly and at least some of us would have thought
That a grand stallion
would have been more appropriate for this king.

But   as we heard the crowd cheer
   And as we watched the crowd throw down their cloaks
Our amusement and embarrassment turns to joy and excitement
and undoubtedly   even pride that we are with him

Things are looking up.  This week is going to be something!
What a moment!    What a triumph!
And you and I are part of it!

But then we hear the Pharisees ask Jesus
to tell the crowd to stop singing his praises
and our anxiety and our discomfort join our excitement.

The triumph was real and fraught with possibilities
   Only now, the possibilities seem much more fragile
And now we fear that things will start looking down.
Our passion reading shows our concerns are not unwarranted.