Palm Sunday, Year C - April 9, 2017

Preacher: 
The Rev. Amelie Wilmer Minor
Sermon Text: 

Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday

Year A

April 9, 2017

The Reverend Amelie A. Wilmer

All Souls Episcopal Church.

 

 

The Liturgy of the Palms                                                     

Matthew 21:1-11                                                                  
     

The Liturgy of the Passion                                                                            

Isaiah 50:4-9a​

Philippians 2:5-11
Matthew 26:14- 27:66

                                                             

 

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During our Wednesday Evening Lent program with Messiah, we have explored the relationship between our personality and our spirituality.  Using the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator we were able to identify four distinctive temperaments that lent themselves to specific approaches to hearing scripture and styles of prayer.  Each temperament was given the name of a Saint, whose life and work embodied that particular personality style.

I think this approach would be helpful for us all as we prepare to enact the Passion Narrative in a few minutes.  Some of us will be reading the various parts, but even if you don’t have an individual speaking part, you all play a role in this tragic drama.  So let’s take a moment before we hear the story to consider our how own personality style might affect the way we identify with its cast of characters.

If you have an Ignatian personality, you use your sense perceptions and appreciation for order and tradition to connect with the story and discern God’s will for you. As you listen, you’ll want to pay attention to what you see, hear, feel, touch, smell?  And use your imagination to actually enter the scene.  Perhaps you are one of the disciples in that upper room with Jesus, tasting the bread, feeling the warmth of friendship…what do you want to say to Jesus?  What is the tone of Peter’s voice when he insists that he’ll never deny Jesus…how does that sound to you?

Or maybe you’re outside, in the Garden of Gethsemane.  What does the air feel like, the damp ground underneath, when sleep overtakes you and hard as you try, you just can’t stay awake with Jesus?  How might God be inviting you to stay awake, right now?

For those of you who are more like St. Thomas Aquinas in your style, you see things logically and want to understand, comprehend, explain and predict.  You do best when you consider things scientifically - asking who, what, why, where, how, and when?  You want to come to a conclusion that sheds a new light on things.  So, you might be wondering how long had Judas been thinking of betraying Jesus?  When did he start talking to the chief priests, and where did they meet? What finally convinced him to go through with the betrayal?  Was it for 30 pieces of silver? Or was it because he was disappointed in his teacher, or with the way things were heading. Why would anyone betray another?

Maybe you wonder why Peter followed Jesus into the courtyard if he was so reluctant to admit their friendship.  Did Peter have reasons for denying Jesus, other than cowardice?  Did he think perhaps he thought he could save Jesus?  What does this tell you about your own motives and missteps when you seek to help others or do what is right? Or when you judge the motives and missteps of others?

Now, if you have the kind of personality St. Augustine had, you operate from intuition and heart, and seek meaning, authenticity, and continued growth in your inner life.  You tend to be future oriented and it’s important to ask, what does the story mean for me, going forward? You’ll want to transpose the story to your current situation and imagine what Jesus has to say to you about it. 

I’m Augustinian, and I relate to the women in the story who stand at a distance, who had provided for Jesus, but now are completely helpless, powerless to do anything, as women were in the 1st century.  Our social limitations aren’t now what they were then, but so many times I feel helpless, in the face of homelessness, poverty, persecution…and in the face of my own limitations.  What do I hear Jesus telling me as I wrestle with what this means for me, and how can I grow from that?

The last personality type is Franciscan.  If you are in this category, you need to feel free, unencumbered by rules and you thrive on action, adventure, and working with your hands.  You see God in creation, in every moment, and feel the need to do something concrete.  Perhaps you’ll identify strongly with Jesus and wonder how you would accept this burden he carries, rather than resist it or retreat from it. 

You might be wondering, how is it that I play it safe, hedge my bets, do what is practical and proven? To heck with seeking recognition, affirmation, and “safety”… How am I going to take the leap of faith that the kind of radical, self-offering love Jesus gave does lead to redemption, to new life? What one thing can I risk, what can I make or do or give of myself for the benefit of someone or something in need of redemption?

One of the messages of Holy Week is that no matter how hard we try to follow the way of Jesus, sooner or later every one of us will betray or deny, or abandon, or stand at a distance from him. We do this in our places of work when it will cost too much to think or act like a follower of Christ. We do it in our homes when our anger is so great that we hurt those who trust us the most. We do this in the sacred commitments we make that we simply cannot keep. We do it in all the ways we fall asleep rather than stay awake with Christ.

So, find yourself in this story and acknowledge the truth you hear. And then, try, if you are able, to return this week for at least one of our Holy Week services to explore that truth more deeply – more slowly - this time, as one who remains with Jesus…at the last supper on Maundy Thursday, the foot of the cross on Good Friday, the mouth of the empty tomb at the Easter Vigil, and the hope you find there.   

Pay attention. Ponder where you fit in to this story – today, and in the week to come – and you might find a new ending to your own.

Amen

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