Tuesday, April 15, 2014

You Say You Want A Revolution!

I have found that people often times don’t understand why Jesus was killed.
I don’t mean that they didn’t know about Jesus being crucified, buried, and raised on the third day.
But they don’t understand the narrative flow of the story told in the Gospels.
They didn’t understand that after Jesus rides into Jerusalem he then begins to turn over the money changers.
After the crowds shout “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Jesus spends five more days in Jerusalem teaching and preaching.
This is why Jesus is killed, because he went to Jerusalem and upset the order of things.
Jesus made the religious and political leaders angry when he overturned the tables in the temple.
He made the religious leaders angry when he taught that they didn’t understand God correctly.
Palm Sunday is not about triumphant it is about revolution.
Revolution is defined as “a sudden, extreme, or complete change in the way people live, work, etc.”
I have no doubt that what the disciples were thinking was that Jesus was going to Jerusalem to take it back for the Jews.
But this was too small a goal for Jesus, what he really wanted was to change the order of life as we know it.
He wanted people to understand life differently.
Palm Sunday is the beginning of that revolution.

It is easy to cheer for a conquering hero.
Although, what the crowds are asking is for Jesus to save them.
The word Hosanna means, “Save us”.
It is an appropriate way to think about Jesus because we do need Jesus to save us.
But often not in the way we think.

We sometimes think of Jesus in this way.
We think of him as a super hero.
Like Superman.
When we are in trouble we just need Jesus to sweep in and use his super powers to make everything better.
The idea of Superman is that he is a super hero who will make the world better, a man who will stand up for truth, Justice, and the American way, a man who can sweep out all the bad, and all the people who try to do bad.
It is a nice thought.
But it is not the story of Jesus.
It is not the holy and sacred story we are about to experience this Holy Week.
Jesus story is more complex.
The savor is the one dying on the cross.
The savor is the one not doing away with the violence, hatred, and evil of the world, but the one who is succumbing to it.
Jesus is no super hero.
He is a revolutionary, drastically changing the way we understand our lives, and the world around us.

Lots of people say that Jesus dies because he taught us to love everyone.
It is true that Jesus taught us to love everyone, but that is not why he died.
He died because loving everyone disrupts the status quo.
In the real world when you disrupt the status quo when you try to change things, you are not treated as a hero.

Most of you know that I have been outspoken in my support of repealing the death penalty in NH.
I have written op-eds in the paper about it.
I have spoken in front of both the house and the senate.
I have helped organize a vigil here in Concord.
This is my way of walking the path of discipleship.
But like everything, not everyone agrees with me.
I decided to read some of the comments people have posted on-line after I testified, marched, or wrote.
Normally, I don’t do this because it is usually very nasty.
But for the purpose of this morning’s sermon I thought it would be instructive.
I will only share two of them.
One person wrote, “I say take off the collar and earn a living then pay for these criminals yourself. Anyone that can read, watch, or listen to what these people have done and still quote a passage in the bible is completely out of touch with the reality of life.”
And another wrote, “The Reverend is a MORON.”
For me this is what happens when we follow Jesus.
Not just when we talk about it with each other, but when we get out in the street.
People become disturbed and nervous, just like the crowd in Jerusalem when Jesus came riding into town.
It creates turmoil, because we are testifying to the revolution.
We are asking for a drastic change in how we understand all areas of life.
And it is upsetting when the world is actually run on the principals of love and compassion that Jesus taught us.

This is the issue it is one thing for Jesus to talk about these things, another thing to ride into Jerusalem and overturn the money changers, set up camp in the middle of the temple and begin to teach and preach.
It is another thing to put the revolution into motion.

I have a confession to make to all of you.
A couple of weeks ago I allowed four people experiencing homelessness to sleep for one night in our building.
It was a cold night, and they had nowhere to go that night.
I suppose it was risky thing to do.
But here was my thinking on this.
Why have a church that follows Jesus Christ into loving service if we don’t open our doors to people in need?
Of course there are all kinds of things that could have gone wrong.
I know what the risks were.
But if we are really going to be a Christian Church then we can’t merely talk about Jesus’ love, we have to live it out in some way, shape or form.

Which leads me to this question, do we really mean it when we shout out to Jesus riding into Jerusalem.
Do we know what we are really asking for when we are asked to be “Saved”?
Are the shouts merely superficial?
Do we want Jesus to be part of our individual lives and the lives of this congregation or not?
Are we ready for Jesus to change us, to make us totally different?
Are we ready for the revolution?

These are important questions for us to ask.
It comes down to what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
Because Jesus has told us that not everyone who shouts our Lord, Lord…will be part of the Kingdom of God.
Because all they want to do is praise and worship God, without that praising and worshipping meaning that we get dirty in the world.
Sure it is nice to ride triumphantly into Jerusalem with Jesus, but we really don’t want to be part of the revolution.
And that is what Jesus is about revolution, a revolution that transforms us and the world.

This lent we have had time to think about letting go of things in our lives that don’t matter; we have had time to think about adding God into our lives.
And that is what this revolution is about.
It is about letting go so we can live as Disciples of Christ, so we can have God in our lives.
And this does not mean that we will be perfect.
There is no such thing.
It only means that we are willing to grow in our spiritual pursuits.
We are willing to order the world in a different way.
We are willing to not just shout words of Hosanna, but also live those words.

We are willing to be saved by the one who dies on a cross, because love is stronger than hate, goodness stronger than evil.
We are willing to join the revolution.
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

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