A highlight from March 28, 2021: Palm Sunday


Two men made grand entrances at the beginning of passover that year perhaps even on the same day perhaps even at the very same time two very different processions made their way through the gates at the opposite sides of jerusalem two very different processions that embodied two very different sets of values two very different visions of the world. Punches pilot was the prefect of the roman province of judaea. The man charged with keeping the peace among conquered jewish population. For most of the year he ruled from a port city called caesarea maritime on a pilgrimage to the holy land. A few years ago our group visited caesarea maritime. It's a it's an incredibly picturesque beautiful location right on the shores of the mediterranean sea. A wonderful place actually for the roman prefect to call home but each spring pontius pilot temporarily moved his headquarters to jerusalem. That's because at passover each year during the annual celebration of the jewish people's that liberates from slavery in egypt. The population of jerusalem grew to perhaps as much as five times. Its usual size. Because jews from all over the world made pilgrimage to the temple at passover to commemorate how god had conquered their egyptian overlords and liberated them from tyranny their current roman overlords ruled them harshly and violently and consequently sedition and rebellion always in the air in the first century. Ad never more so than during the festival each spring that celebrated their freedom from tyranny and so at the beginning of passover. Each year pilot moved his headquarters to jerusalem intent on heading off any potential issues with his jewish subjects. He arrived at the gates of the holy city with a typically imposing roman show of force cavalry and foot soldiers swords and spears armor and chariots and warhorses pilot was a ruthless and violent man and his message was clear. Your god may have delivered you from the egyptians. We are not the egyptians entering from the west on the road from his usual headquarters on the mediterranean sea having left the beautiful picturesque palace. That was his home for the rest of the year. Pilot would have been in a foul mood leading troops who were wary and on edge and suspicious of the subjects that they were coming to keep in line. This procession from the west was intended to be an intimidating demonstration of roman power. A clear symbol of the might of the greatest empire in the world at the time at its best. The empire made an enduring and invaluable mark on western civilization to be sure it's accomplishments where many and lasting we of course are the beneficiaries of those accomplishments the inheritors of the legacy of that those great moments in architecture and engineering and politics and literature and philosophy and art but those accomplishments and advancements were accompanied by a brutal cost in human misery and suffering including exploitation of the poor and oppression of the powerless and the use of violence against their perceived enemies often with almost almost unimaginable cruelty not to mention discrimination against religions that were unlike their own certainly in judea in the first century. All of this was embodied in the procession that was entering jerusalem's western gates at the beginning of passover that year meanwhile from the east the opposite side of town down the mount of olives on the road from galilee came up procession reflecting a very different set of values a very different vision of the world a procession intended to confront the excesses and injustices both of the empire and the jewish religious authorities whose own power depended upon their cooperation with rome. Procession that we have come to know as palm sunday. The two men leading these two very different processions would face to face by the end of the week with monumental consequences for the course of human history will tell that story in coming days for now. We need to talk about that procession from the east as the first gospel to have been written mark gives us our earliest account of palm sunday. And we're going to be reading. What is the lecturer gospel text for today from the eleventh chapter of mark verses one through eleven listen friends for the word of god as it is proclaimed by god's servant the evangelist mark when they were approaching jerusalem at bethpage bethany near the mount of olives. Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them. Go into the village ahead of you and immediately as you enter it. You will find tied their a cult. That has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it if anyone says to you. Why are you doing this. Just say this. The lured needs it. And we'll send it back here immediately. They went away and found a colt tied near door outside in the street as they were untying at some of the bystanders said to them. What are you doing untying the colt. They told them what jesus had said and they allowed them to take it then. They brought the colt jesus and through their cloaks on it and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting hosanna blessed is the one who comes in the name of the lord. Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor david hosanna in the highest heaven. Then he entered jerusalem and went into the temple and when he had looked around at everything as it was already late he went out to bethany with the twelve. This is the word of god for the people of god. Thanks

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