Friday, April 15, 2011

Palm Sunday

At St. Andrew's Bessemer City NC Palm Sunday April 17, 2011 after the Epistle and before the Passion.

Before we read the Passion I have a few things to say.

          On Palm Sunday we omit the Nicene Creed and the Confession and Absolution. These are in the Passion gospel, a dramatic reading with a narrator and speaking parts. On the occasion of his baptism and the eve of his birthday I have asked Vaughn Dutton to read the concluding words of the Centurion. These words are a profession of faith in the words of scripture to be repeated in the words of baptism. 

          All in the congregation read the words of the crowd before Pilate and at the cross. We are spiritually present then and there. The congregation of Israel at Mount Sinai received the Ten Commandments not only for those present but for all the children of Israel forever, both natural children and adopted children like us. When we celebrate the Holy Communion we join “with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven” including our family and friends and all who have gone before us into the presence of the Lord. So this morning we stand before Pilate and we stand at the cross, and the words of the crowd are our words.

          Jesus died on the cross for the sins of all - for our sins, and for the sins of the whole world.  Paul reminds us letter to the Romans (3:23 and 5:12) “all have sinned.” Some of us have committed major and public sins, but most of our sins are minor, private sins that we sometimes have trouble remembering. When we cry out with the crowd we are not spectators to a past event; we are participants in a present event with eternal consequences for our own souls and for the whole world.

Martin Luther wrote (Letter 99, Paragraph 13) “God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.”

So we cry before Pilate and before the cross let it not be as spectators - other people in a far away land and a distant time but speak for yourself; sin boldly with full voice, laying your sins and the sins of the world boldly at the foot of the cross on which we crucify Jesus, looking with faith to his glorious resurrection and our new life in him.

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