2009-04-02 by Amy Butler
Well, if the thought of church children blissfully waving palms is too much to give up, then I think the danger of staging an “early Easter” should be foremost on the preacher’s mind going into the pulpit this Sunday. As one astute reader asked on Monday: “If you do palms, when does the average Christian confront the demands and the sacrifices of the Christian life?” It’s true: even if you decide not to go with passion on Sunday, there’s no denying that there’s a whole lot of darkness to get through before we put on our Easter bonnets.
So what if the preacher took Palm Sunday as an opportunity to reframe the story we hear every year and have somehow turned into a festival of greenery-waving happiness? Fred Craddock calls the Palm Sunday procession a protest march, and several commentators cite Borg and Crossan, who describe Jesus’ entry on a colt through a back gate on the other side of the city as staged in direct and intentional contrast to Pilate prancing in on a war horse through the front. This interesting detail might shed some light on the utterly radical and wholly defiant statement Jesus was making, both in his entry into Jerusalem that day . . . and, frankly, through his whole entire ministry and message.
Who would have thought that my Christian faith is a radical protest to the structures and expectations of this world? This Sunday could be just the Sunday for that kind of invitation! What a gift it could be to head into Holy Week with an invitation to follow our radical Savior, Jesus . . . to think within the context of this Palm Sunday protest whether or not we’ve ever considered that our confessions as Jesus-followers might lead us to stand up publicly and forcefully and to protest, to speak truth to power, to insist that injustice end, to put our reputations, to our careers, to our friendships, whatever . . . on the line.
Ultimately, in order to face the darkness of the week ahead, we’d better know what it is we’ll hold onto no matter what . . . we’d better have thought about how far we’ll go to follow Jesus, because the path ahead is leading straight to the cross. If you look at it that way, our palms all of the sudden become placards and empty celebration turns into an act of courage that ushers in the Kingdom of God.
2009-04-01 by David von Schlichten
This past Sunday I pretended I was Peter and talked about following Jesus for three years.
This Sunday I will be Peter talking about Maundy Thursday and denying Jesus.
Easter I will be Peter reacting to the resurrection.
My hope is that this trilogy will help people to hear the passion and resurrection anew. Also, along the way I am providing what insights about key texts.
For instance, this past Sunday, when Peter recalls hearing Jesus' first passion prediction, Peter says that he rebukes Jesus because he believes that Jesus has an evil spirit in him. In other words, the story of Peter rebuking Jesus for speaking of suffering and death is the story of Peter trying to perform an exorcism on Jesus.
Anyway, this trilogy of homiletical monologues contains such insights. Most importantly, I pray that these homilogues will somehow draw people into the passion and resurrection in a transforming way.
Part One is at the Sermon Feedback Cafe. Feel free to give feedback, and feel free to post more suggestions about Passion/Palm Sunday. I look forward to your contributions, ever
Yours in Christ,
David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator
Here is a possible solution
2009-04-01 by Susan Cartmell
I have been worrying about this decision for 28 years off and on.
Now I have decided to skirt the dilemma a bit.
For one thing I have pitched the Palm Sunday sermon from every angle I can think of.
But there is such a rich variety of scriptural stories that get overlooked when we think of this as an either or moment.
So this year I have decided to preach on the passion but take one preachable part of it to focus on.
Most of the rest of the Holy Week services we have involve lots of readings to accommodate the flow of scripture. And I find that the Palm Sunday crowd is usually much larger that the crowds in the middle of the week. So it seemed like a good idea to preach on these various stories in the passion narrative, individually.
This week I will preach on Mark 14: 66-72. The story of Peter in the garden stands alone. I am hoping to talk about regrets.
Whatever their intentions, both Peter and Judas betrayed Jesus. But what happened to them after their betrayals was different.
One could easily argue that Judas’ betrayal was of a whole different magnitude.
But I think for the purposes of preaching this week, it makes an interesting comparison to look as how differently they handled their betrayal.
One man learned from his mistake and went on to build the church. Another gave up on himself completely.
I hope to preach a sermon that considers our various regrets in life and how hard it is to acknowledge our own sins and accept forgiveness. I may talk about how hard it is toforgive ourselves.
It is only Wednesday so this is still very much a work in progress.But it is my answer to the question of how to really preach the passion story: one story at a time. I think it all preaches, one mouthful at a time, not in a big gulp
We interrupt this blog...
2009-03-31 by David Howell
to let you know that you may view and vote on the three seminarian sermons for the GoodPreacher Seminarian Award.
The top three vote recipients from the first round are:
They have prepared YouTube versions of the sermons. Click on the links above. After viewing all 3 sermons, please vote for one sermon here. If you do not have the code, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscribers (who are logged on) can get the password here.
Please vote on or before April 8. If the voting results in a tie, a distinguished panel will review the YouTube sermons and announce the GoodPreacher Seminarian Award winner by May 1.
The person receiving the most votes will receive a complimentary registration to the Festival of Homiletics in Atlanta, May 18-22, 2009, a dorm room at Emory University, and $200.00 in expense money for the Festival! And be introduced on Monday evening at the Festival of Homiletics!
2009-03-31 by Stephen Schuette
I’m working at tying some “strands” together. The suffering servant remains focused, is not thrown off by his present predicament. He is centered in trust. The “mind” of Christ, Paul seems to suggest, is not like our mind. Our minds throw us off in countless ways with our thoughts always leading us astray long before we act. But the mind of Christ, as with the servant in Isaiah, is centered on a purpose.
These connect with both the palm or passion narratives. Since the entirety of the Gospel is reflected in each story you can’t help but see that the Jesus in the procession is a figure who is looking well beyond the moment, centered in a calling that is not about his own glorification. The palm procession is a vignette out of a larger story that is moving forward. He is the regal figure who empties himself – the royal with a different mind.
And in the passion verses there are distractions everywhere. Two possible “side-trips” away from the main plot is suggested by a focus on either money (the jar of ointment) or power (the sword in the Garden). No question, they are huge distractions. But Jesus stays centered, focused, flint-like.
To be so centered, to have such a “mind,” to fulfill our calling, isn’t this what it means to follow Jesus?
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