Saturday, March 31, 2007

Palm Sunday Signals

Palm Sunday is such a confusing Sunday; so festive, yet acting as a prelude to Passion week. That's why the term "Palm Sunday" ahs given way in most liturgical churches for "Passion Sunday" because it is less of a festival than a somber reminder of what lies ahead for Jesus.
The palms in the huge urn and strewn on the chancel speak of the crowd's recognition of Jesus as their hero, answer, and hope for freedom. Palm Sunday, is big, like the altar-piece. The religious leaders hated the spectacle and tried to get Jesus to calm down the crowds. But Jesus let them sing and praise and wave those palms.
Jesus' own response to the Palm Sunday parade was neither joy nor disappointment, but sadness. He wept as he saw Jerusalem, still not understanding his full message. May we wave and praise him, less as majestic king and more as the Messiah who died that we might live.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Let's Make a Deal

Do you like deals? Do you like negotiating deals? Do you like giving deals or getting deals? Pontius Pilate was a professional deal-maker. His job was to revenues for Rome, keep the peace, by, when possible, making deals. He was the State Supreme Court before going to Rome. Jesus was a problem, and Pilate tried to make a deal between the religious leaders, Jesus and the crowds.
His deal did not work. Pilate could not broker a deal between Jesus and the leaders or crowds or even the powers of Rome because Jesus would not back down from nor deny being KING; King of the Jews. Bold, stark, offensive and non-negotiable. Jesus claimed to be King....and still does.
I try to work out deals with Jesus all the time. If I'm really faithful, will you make me successful? If I pray hard, will you keep me well? If we love you, will you make sure we get along with the planning commission? If I preach well, will you make sure people like me? And guess what? Still no deals. Kings do not make deals. They rule and reign and we, their subjects need to learn to obey, not broker deals.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Peter and the Rooster

The story of Peter's denial of Jesus is punctuated and illustrated by the crowing of the rooster. The metal rooster on the table set among rocks is harsh and rusty. It has seen its share of rainstorms and scorching sun. It speaks of sounding out the hours, regardless of the weather or the situation. Roosters are made to crow and strut, arrogant and dependable. To tell a rooster to be quiet would be as futile as....telling Peter he would betray Jesus.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Arrested and Tried

Jesus' arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane was the defining catalyst for his passion, death, and resurrection. In an amongst the olive branches of that dark and quiet garden lurked the spears and clubs of the mob and Roman cohort, come to arrest him following the betrayer's kiss. The rocks at the base of the tree speak of the rocks where the three disciples slept through Jesus' prayer. The tall Christ candle towers above the mob andthose who fall away. The passion narrative is a period of clear definition for who and whose Christ is. The carpet that covers the table tells one more part of the story, and that is of the mock trial of Jesus in the house of the High Priest that night, a blatantly illegal act.
For the next three Sundays the altar wll be telling the story of Jesus arrest and trial, the denial of Peter and standing before Pilate.