Praise One Day, Crucify the Next

Luke 19:28-40

Peace and love to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.

It was Palm Sunday, and the family's 6-year old son had to stay home from church because of strep throat. When the rest of the family returned home carrying palm branches, the little boy asked what they were for. His mother explained, "People held them over Jesus' head as he walked by." Wouldn't you know it," the boy fumed. "The one Sunday I don't go to church, and Jesus shows up!"

Many congregations read the entire Passion Story as the Gospel for today, but we don't do that at Trinity; we read that as a congregation in sort of a dialog-play-narration format on Maundy Thursday. It's a powerful service, and of course the night in which Jesus instituted our observance of Lord's Supper, Holy Communion, the Eucharist.

I don't like to read the entire Passion Story on Palm Sunday, (the entire Passion Story going through to the end of the crucifixion and burial), because it takes away from the importance of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem.

The word, "Jerusalem" actually means 'habitat or foundation of Peace'. And the habitat, the foundation of peace was considered the heart.

It's rather ironic in a way since Jerusalem has been a place of 'non-peace' even from biblical times. But it was always meant to be such a place of peace, AND, if those over the years who have kept it a place of non-peace, ever come to a time when they can enjoy peace, it would indeed be a huge step in bringing peace to the whole world.

This entry of Jesus' into Jerusalem is very important for us in our daily lives today, believe it or not. It isn't only something that applies to Jesus' life 2000 years ago. We have many hymns that relate to having Jesus come into our hearts. And this wonderful, joyful, exuberant passage of Scripture today is about Jesus coming into our heart, today and every day. The heart is the foundation of peace.

Some of you might remember the first time you really opened your heart and let the full love of Jesus in. Some folks have never had such a moment, but have had wonderful 'faith moments' where they have experienced the true love and presence of Jesus.

I've had lots of wonderful faith moments where I experienced the fullness of the love and presence of Jesus. I remember one time when I was in my early 30's and was walking down the center aisle of the newly built St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco. There were one or two other folks in the huge nave of the church, just looking around in awe. The Cathedral roof is a majestic sweeping upward from four sides that come together to form a cross that you can see only from the air above, or standing under it in the nave of the cathedral. The cross is stained glass and as you look upward you can see this as the sunlight streams through.

It was a bright, sunny day, and as I walked down the center aisle, I stepped into the sunlight streaming down through the stained glass cross. And at that same moment, the cathedral organist, who was there to practice, hit the grand opening chords of a Bach organ piece. What happened was that my knees buckled and I crumpled to the floor. No one saw me, fortunately, because I also broke into sobs. It took me several minutes to get myself composed to be able to stand and get into a pew to sit.

It will sound silly, compared to what some other folks have experienced, but that moment changed my life (it wasn't the only one, nor was it the first) and I began a new direction in my life.

It was like a 'Hosanna!' day for me. It was like a day of experiencing the Lord entering Jerusalem, because it was a day that I experienced Jesus entering my heart. It couldn't have been more real or more joyful or overwhelming.

It was a Praise Day, a Hosanna Day. And today, Palm Sunday, is a Praise Day, a Hosanna Day. Hosanna means "save us now." So, it's a day when we recognize how excited the people were to have Jesus coming into the city as a Savior who would bring peace. And today, now, in 2007, it's a day to think about Jesus entering, not just Jerusalem the city in Israel, but Jesus entering the habitat, the foundation of peace, the place in our hearts.

It's a Praise Day. But you know what? We have those wonderful UP in the air, walking on clouds kind of days with Jesus. But then it seems that the daily reality of the world hits us and we even forget those incredible experiences. And, just like the title of the sermon, "Praise One Day, Crucify the Next," that's what happens.

We felt, we experienced that peace in our hearts and were overwhelmed, joyous. But then the world comes booming in around us and we suddenly are crucifying that place of peace in ourselves. Just like the people who were led into believing negative things about Jesus and shouted 'crucify him,' we, too, get led into believing the negative words of the world that come to us through the media of TV or newspapers, or even well-meaning, but very negative friends and strangers who almost delight in bringing us the 'bad' news. And we take it all in and start to believe it.

We start to believe that peace is not possible. We start to believe half-truths and even lies; or maybe people call us 'traitors' for believing in peace. And just a day or two after we have experienced that wonderful place of peace in our hearts, we are nailing peace to the cross.

Remember the Hosanna days! Remember that the place of peace is always within you. Jesus, the risen Christ, brought his peace into your heart. Once he brings it, it never leaves. It's only our THINKING that makes us think it's not there. It's only our BELIEVING that it isn't there that makes us believe it isn't. It's only our listening to and believing the constant bombarding of negativity by the world that makes us forget the Hosanna days.

When you start to feel negative, when you hear yourself speaking negative words, shout "Hosanna!" (save us now!). I'm sure, if you are with other folks, or in a crowded room, you aren't going to shout aloud, "Hosanna!" But you can shout it really loudly in your mind. By shouting "Hosanna!" you are asking Jesus to save you from falling into the pit of negativity. You are asking Jesus to bring out the peace that is in your heart, and not let the world suffocate that peace and bring chaos into your heart.

So, when something negative seems to get to you, instead of shouting 'damn' (which I know many of you have no problem shouting that out loud), think of how it would change your mood to shout, "Hosanna!" It almost makes you want to laugh at yourself for letting something get to you and shake up your peace.

So, make this and every day a "Hosanna!" Day. Let's try it. Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna! Amen!

And so it is.

Read more sermons by Pastor Brie