“Preparing, and Prepared”-Palm Sunday Sermon 2019

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Mon, 04/15/2019 - 9:30am

Palm Sunday 2019 at Harbor Church SERMON: “Preparing, and Prepared”

Readings:

Luk 19:28-40  And after he had said these things, he traveled on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.  (29)  And it happened that when he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, to the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples,  (30)  saying, 'Go into the village in front of you, in which as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no person has ever sat, and untie it and bring it.  (31)  And if anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' you will say this: 'The Lord has need of it.'"  (32)  So those who were sent went and found it just as he had told them.  (33)  And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, 'Why are you untying the colt?'  (34)  So they said, 'The Lord has need of it.'  (35)  And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they put Jesus on it.  (36)  And as he was going along, they were spreading out their cloaks on the road.  (37)  Now as he was drawing near by this time to the descent from the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began rejoicing to praise God with a loud voice for all the miracles that they had seen,  (38)  saying, "Blessed is the king, the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"  (39)  And some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to him, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"  (40)  And he answered and said, "I tell you that if these keep silent, the stones will cry out!"

Psa 84:1-12  For the music director; on the Gittith. Of the sons of Korah. A psalm. How lovely are your dwelling places, O LORD of hosts!  (2)  My soul longs and even fails for the courtyards of the LORD. My heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.  (3)  Even a bird finds a home, and a swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, near your altars, O LORD of hosts, my king and my God.  (4)  Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they can ever praise you. Selah.  (5)  Blessed is the man whose strength is in you; in their heart are the highways to Zion.  (6)  Passing through the desert Valley of Baca, they make it into a spring where waters flow. The early rain covers it with blessings as well.  (7)  They go from strength to strength, until each appears before God in Zion.  (8)  O LORD, God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.  (9)  Look at our shield, O God, and have regard for the face of your anointed one.  (10)  Because better is a day in your courtyards than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be at the threshold of the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.  (11)  Because the LORD God is a sun and a shield; the LORD gives grace and honor. He does not withhold any good thing from those who walk blamelessly/with integrity.  (12)  O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts you.

Palm Sunday 2019 at Harbor Church SERMON: “Preparing, and Prepared”

Today is Palm Sunday. The next time most of us worship together will be Easter Sunday. From celebration to celebration. But what else do we remember during Holy Week? Between the March to Jerusalem and the Walk to the empty tomb is the Path to Golgatha, to Calvary, the cross, crucifixion, and the upper room.

Paradoxes… Polar Opposites… Contradictions… Incongruities… Antitheses

Consider what happened in the space of just a few short days, Jesus’ final days of ministry:

He went From Adulation to Renunciation, From Adoration to Repudiation, From Exaltation to Denigration, From Celebration to Condemnation, 

During the Triumphal Entry, The crowds praised him, cheered him, revered him, honored him, respected him. Then, just a few days later, they Renounced him, rejected Him,  Gave up on him, Abandon and left him, Rejected and Disowned him. At the end of his journey to Jerusalem, The Lord Jesus went to the cross alone, but I wonder if maybe the cheers of the crowds, the hosannas of praise and encouragement might have helped him prepare for his darkest driest desert moments that were yet to come.

So lets talk for a few moments this morning about the path of preparedness, of making ourselves ready between the celebration of Palm Sunday and the jubilation of Easter Sunday as we remember the journey that Jesus made through his desert experience during the last week of his life on earth.

Carrie and I just returned from a trip through the high deserts of Utah. We took a four day bicycle tour through Canyonlands National Park. But we weren’t alone. We traveled with a group of 11 strangers and 2 guides to get through the desert safely.

Our tour group prepared us thoroughly for our trip through the desert. Before we even left home, we received checklists from the Western Spirits Cycling Group leaders to make sure that we were prepared with everything that we would need. We packed raingear, and warm clothing, much of which we didn’t use because of the fair weather. This past week after we returned a freak spring snow storm hit the area that we were in, we would have probably used everything we brought with us if we had made the trip just a few days later. The point is that we were prepared for anything. Spiritual preparation can make us ready for both the sunshine and storms of life. Conversely, Much of what we brought with us was essential to our survival. The vast wilderness that we travelled through had almost no water or food in it. Our one of guides drove a support vehicle that had all of these supplies in it. Even though it was springtime temperatures, each of us need to drink at least a gallon of water a day to stay hydrated in the arid environment. Our Guide truck carried this water for us. Our Psalm tells us of a desert that was transformed into a place of springs, full of abundant pools of water. For us, the guides provided the life-giving water to sustain us. For those who trust in Jesus as their guide through life, we are reminded that He is the water of life, and that anyone who drinks from his well of everlasting life, will never be thirsty.

The point is that none of us is alone in this world. We are surrounded by people to support us and encourage us when we need it. The strangers with whom we rode through the desert became acquaintances over the course of the week. We shared meals and a common camp together. We stopped at scenic overlooks and marveled at the natural beauty of countless vistas together. At the end of the week, we exchanged email addresses and posted group pictures to a common photo album on-line together as well. It was a kind of corporate hosanna that we shared with one another, to testify to the wonderful experience that we shared. We took time to notice the beautiful, fragile desert flowers that adorned the wilderness, that caused us to marvel at the gift of life, and the majesty of God’s creation. And we have a group of fellow travelers in our church, with whom we can celebrate the high moments of our lives as well, with whom we can shout loud hosannas of praise to the God of our salvation.

During Jesus parade of palms and cloaks, the crowd proclaimed "Blessed is the king, the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"  (39)  And some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to him, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"  (40)  And he answered and said, "I tell you that if these keep silent, the stones will cry out!"

This was part of our experience in the canyons of the southwest. It seemed time and time again that every rock formation shouted out the glory of God, that every stone spire was a temple of God’s presence, that every smooth passage through the desert had bee prepared for us in advance by the Lord.  The second morning of our trip, while our group was sitting around, drinking coffee, and waiting for breakfast,  I was doing a silent devotional reading as a part of my routine quiet time with the Lord. I was reading Psalm 84, which we read a little while ago. I was so moved by it that I aske the others if they would like me to read it aloud to them. There were no objections, so I did. The next morning, at the same time, my fellow sojourners said, Pastor Peter, give us another reading! God was present, in our midst, and though we can from diverse convictions and faith traditions, we shared a powerful moment of worship together as we acknowledged the creator, God of us all, right there in our midst.

After the high moments like these, there were demanding moments of strenuous effort when we climbed some really steep mesas to ride across the plateaus that separated some of the different canyons that we rode through. Several people were waiting at the top of one such climb, catching their breath. As I neared the summit, they cheered me on, when I fell over just before I reached the top. They brushed me off, made sure that I was ok, patted me on the back, and we all pressed on together.

When Jesus stumbled and fell on the road to Golgatha, where he would eventually be crucified, Thomas came along side of him and carried it for him for a while. When one of us was too fatigued to climb a steep trail on our bikes to the top of a mesa, the truck was there to carry us to the top of the pass. We relied on our guides to keep us safe and sustain us.

The church is that safe place for us as well.

There we can find rest and support for all our needs. There we can receive all the encouragement to continue our spiritual journey together.

During Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem, The people laid down their coats in the streets. Through this simple act they symbolically prepared the way of the Lord. What can we do in between now and next Sunday to lay our lives before the Lord, to invite him to make our hearts ready for the wonderful miracle of Easter.

The name of Jesus and the proclamation of our loud Hosannas today mean essentially the same thing: that God Saves, God redeems, God delivers, God restores, that God delivers hope and mercy to each one of us through the ultimate act of sacrifice on the cross…

We are all on a spiritual path that leads to Easter; we are all walking towards the promise and hope of the empty tomb. But as we move from Palm Sunday to Easter, as we move from celebration to celebration, let’s prepare our hearts and minds by remembering the Lord’s passion during the final days of his earthly ministry.

This Holy Week, I encourage you to take advantage of some of the opportunities being offered to observe our Lord’s final journey to the cross. [Describe Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday events on the island].

Our celebration today is a remembrance that Jesus is the King who came to rule the world and bring peace on Earth. Our Celebration next Sunday will remind us that Christ has conquered death and given us all the hope of life eternal. But in between these moments, let prepare our hearts in every way that we can by calling to mind the desert experience that our Lord traveled through in order to become the Savior of the world. May our final preparation in the next few days make the promise of Easter fuller and richer because of the spiritual journey that each of us makes during this coming Holy Week. God Bless you-Hosanna in the Highest!