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


April 13, 2014:

Call:    Matthew 21: 1-11
Text:    Matthew 27: 1-2, 24-37, 45-54
Prayer:  W&S #21
Affirmation 1 Timothy (889)


Today we begin a week of experiencing
   Even more with our feelings and our emotions
   than with our logic and our knowledge

Therefore I ask you to imagine buying - or better yet, building -
a lovely home on the banks of an impressive river.

You worked hard on it
You created it as your dream home.
And it is your pride and your joy.

And then it rains    and it rains and it rains

The river rises up, and up, and up.
As you watch
The water starts to escape its banks
And keeps getting closer and closer, and closer to your home.

The waters are moving inexorably - that is, unstoppably -
toward your home
   And toward its destruction.

You watch in horror
   Knowing fully well that there is nothing you can do to stop it

That, my friends, is Holy Week
   Where the story moves inexorably, unstoppably
from the cheers to the cross.

Now imagine you own a collection of sports cars

And you house them in a building in Washington State

You worked hard to put the collection together
You created this collection of automobiles as your dream
And it is your pride and your joy.

And then the mud starts to slide
and it slides, and it slides, and it slides

As you watch
It seems to increase in size and in energy....
And it keeps getting closer and closer and closer
to your cars

The mud is moving inexorably - that still means unstoppably
toward your cars -
   And toward their destruction.

You watch in horror
   Knowing fully well that there is nothing you can do to stop it

That, my friends, is Holy Week
   Where the story moves inexorably, unstoppably
from the Sunday crowd's shouts of "hosannas."
to the Friday crowd's shouts of
"Crucify him!  Crucify him!"

I share these images because Holy Week
is meant to be experienced,      and meant to be felt
It is not meant to simply be observed.

For if we cannot feel or experience Holy Week
   Then it is a lot harder
to feel, appreciate, and experience Easter

And if we cannot feel, appreciate, and experience Easter
   Then it is a only a holiday to celebrate
      With colored eggs, new bonnets, and chocolate rabbits.

If we cannot feel, appreciate and experience Easter
   Then worship next week will simply be an opportunity
      To fulfill a social obligation
   And not an opportunity
      To be bowled over by awe and gratitude.

Imagine Holy Week as a motion picture

It would begin, of course,
with the joyful noise of the crowd
as Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem
      humbly riding on a donkey
      as people laid cloaks and palm branches before him,
         treating him as a triumphant, well loved warrior

And then, the camera would reveal that even among this joy
Trouble was lurking for the one being praised
For that camera would pan to a group of men
   Probably hiding behind a large Doric column
   Or a sizable mid-eastern tree.

These men would be frowning
They would be whispering like sly conspirators

They would not be joyfully shouting praises.
And would not approve of those  who were.

At that moment we would know
   That things were going to get worse
And   That the plan those men concocted
Was something we couldn't stop

The story in our movie
is moving inexorably - again, unstoppably - to
      His announcement at the last supper
      His arrest and his trial
And   His death on the cross.

That, my friends, is Holy Week
   Where, over our protests,
the story moves to its conclusion
and you and I cannot change it.

Holy Week tells us the story of the last days of the incarnate Christ

It is a week that begins with joy
   But it is a week that ends in tears and confusion.

I think you and I need to join in that joy
We need to be able to laugh and cheer this morning
We need to be able to experience the hope we feel
   As Jesus rides into the city.

This is a joy even greater than that of
   the man or woman who built his/her dream house
 Or   the person who collected those special automobiles

And that joy sets us up to experience feelings of grief and loss

Feelings like our examples must have felt when
   The flood and mud slides could not be stopped
Feelings of having joy and hope
being sucked out of their lives
Feelings that produced tears

I cried
   When my grandmother died in 1971
I cried
   When my mother died in 1998

But I cried too
   When Ernie Davis died in 1963
   When Carroll O'Connor died in 2001
And despite not being a betting man
and never having been to a thoroughbred track
I cried
When, Secretariat died in 1989

They had all been a part of my life.
They had all brought    love, joy, and/or inspiration to my life
   And then they were gone.

Jesus the Christ brought
love, joy, inspiration     and hope    to me
and to the lives of his followers in and around Jerusalem

And those emotions
reflected in the Hosannas and palm branches
were inexorably turned to grief and loss
   reflected in the cross and the tomb

We need to hear and feel the Palm Sunday story
to experience our loss and tears on Good Friday.

And, as noted earlier,
   We need those tears to experience the awe and astonishment
      On the first day of the following week
         When the women discover the empty tomb
         When people are visited by the risen Christ.

And so, today and Thursday night
we prepare to hear and experience
that awe and that astonishment
By hearing what followed the triumphal entry into Jerusalem
   And what preceded the first day of the following week.

We do so even though we know
That the week and the story move inexorably
to their conclusion on Golgotha ,

To do so, we ask in song that we might feel like we were there that week.

I ask you to remain seated as we sing the haunting piece of music
   Titled "Were You There?"      It is found at # 288

When our song is over,
I pray we listen to the scriptures that follow
   Even more with our feelings and our emotions
and   than with our logic and our knowledge

I think that if we do,
   We will be ready to receive Easter
Just one week from today.

[Were You There?]