Sermon Palm Sunday of our Lord’s Passion April 10, 2022
Our entrance hymn today is pretty standard. Lutherans usually sing it once a year as we wave our palms –
“All glory laud and honor to you Redeemer King.
To whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring.”
Oh, those sweet hosannas. Maybe it’s the mom in me – maybe everybody finds it edifying to our faith. But to watch and hear children singing, playing, praying, and participating in worship makes my morning. We play act our parade this morning, as many churches will, minus the donkey, and we imagine the gleeful squeals of children watching Jesus enter Jerusalem.
But when Jesus scampered into Jerusalem on the back of a stolen colt, however that worked, the people shouted, “Hosanna! Hosanna!” Which does not mean “Hooray!” or “Praise God!” Contrary to what I thought I remembered from Sunday School, Hosanna means, “Save us now.” Save us now. In Hebrew, it can be either a plea or a command.
Please save us. Save us, we pray.
They were putting all their earthly hopes in the guy who came down from the mountains on a burrito. Which means, little donkey, by the way. Appropriate translation in context will always be important. “Save us, burrito riding nobody from Nazareth!” Does it change our perspective that those who waved palms in Jesus’ direction were yelling – SAVE US!
I only failed one exam in seminary. I was actually a really good student. But this was one of those exams that you fail and fail until you pass. It was on The Paschal Mystery. That was it, that was the name of the exam and I think the question was like – “Explain the paschal mystery, and why it is at the heart of our faith.”
I failed it like four times.
Divine mysteries cannot be grasped by mere human reasoning and can only be revealed by God through grace. In this meaning, mystery describes not a problem that must be solved like a mystery novel, but something grasped only by faith. The paschal mystery is that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was raised for our salvation. Why? How? Why??
And yet the mystery of death and resurrection is all around us. We see the mystery of death and resurrection in the springtime buds and blossoms. We see the mystery of death and resurrection in so many aspects of our personal and even professional lives – when we feel like doors are closing, and the weight of loss hangs heavy – as they say – God opens a window.
We cling to this mystery and are saved by it because over 2000 years ago – a man who was also God, was betrayed by his own, tortured and executed by the state. He was meant to be an example of why you should never question oppression. An example where grace, mercy, and vulnerability will get you in life. When we say Hosanna, the king who comes to save us, climbs right into the grave with us. The king of all creation joins us in our sorrows, suffering, and vulnerability, and whispers “Watch this…”
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