Pastor's Articles

 


April 5, 2020 Palm Sunday

 

A Word from the Pastor:

 

The Stimulus Package that has no Conditions

 

The world, our country, our state, and our immediate communities are under siege

by a force no one can control right now. The coronavirus pandemic has laid seige

to humanity on all fronts of our society.

Perhaps that is why I find the first word that comes to our mind for Palm Sunday and Holy Week so significant, Hosanna. Hosanna is an old Hebrew phrase that means “Please save us!”   It's a cry for help. The crowds of people lining the streets of Jerusalem this day were shouting it joyfully. They had heard of Jesus' teachings. Many had seen his miracles. This was clearly the right man to challenge the power of Rome and restore the throne of David. They were ready to welcome Jesus as a new political and religious leader.

Jesus wasn't looking for a parade. The parade was looking for him. The first day of Holy Week is celebratory. “Hosanna! Please save us! Jesus was about to

give humanity the “Stimulus Package that has no Conditions.”

By the end of the week a mood of hate and hostility had supplanted the mood of Hosanna. I believe if the coronavirus lingers on, these two themes will emerge

again, in our history. We are very acquainted with them in our world today.

We see it in the Middle East and many other places in our world, however sometimes we also see it in our own hearts. It should not surprise us that people sometimes responded to Jesus in the worst possible way. People were rarely neutral about him.

Even his own disciples betrayed him, denied him, fled from him. Ironically, he never turned his back on any of them. The stimulus package he offered then, and now, is one of amazing grace.

Jesus never used bait-and switch tactics to bring people into the kingdom of God. He made it very clear from the beginning of his ministry what God planned to do through him. He was coming as the Prince of Peace.

The issue is, it is easier to rally people’s energies and emotions around war, economics, political diversity or hate than it is around peace. These things are often tangible in our world. However; peace requires humility and communication our own sanctification. (i.e. gathering for spring break or ignoring other social and cooperation. The end goal of peace is to conquer ourselves. To conquer our selfish, greedy, violent human nature and work together, rather than thinking of

distancing.)

The Jewish people wanted to be saved from their immediate circumstances. From the oppressive power of Rome. From unjust laws. From the sting of being ruled over by a pagan government that didn’t honor God or their society. They wanted to be saved from the sting of loss and the defeat of their holy nation. They gave no thought to the rule of God in their lives, or the priorities of eternity. And when Jesus lost his popularity, when he looked like a victim, the people wanted a flesh and blood outcome. They wanted immediate power over their situations.

Are we any different? We want a kingdom now, not later. We want a God who protects our comfortable lifestyle, not one who commands us to care for the hungry and the sick and those less fortune. And we try to twist Jesus' words and his priorities to fit our lifestyle. However; it doesn't have to be that way.

Let me tell you about one of the of the most admired leaders in the technology industry today. Sameer Dholakia is CEO of Send Grid, one of the world's most successful business email platforms. Sameer's colleagues and employees all refer to him as a servant leader. That’s an interesting term, to me. “Servant leader.”

 

Sameer credits his mother, who was killed when Sameer was just 15. There was a particular Indian parable she loved to recite for him. She would say, “When we enter this world, we all enter as babies with our fists clenched. Kicking and screaming and crying. When we leave, we all leave at peace, with our hands open. There's a reason why this is: we all carry into this world a special and unique gift-

a gift you clench in your fists as a baby. Your job, the point of your life, is to discover what that gift is and then to give that gift to others. When you are done giving of that gift, then it will be your time and you will pass at peace. (CEOs in tech” by Jeff Kauflin, Forbes, August 10, 2017.)

 

Jesus faced the last week of his life with peace because he knew that he was giving the ultimate gift, a stimulus package without conditions. He left this world not only with open hands but will return with open arms.

Holy week ends with one more H-word but I dare not say it today. It's the Hebrew word of “Praise You, Lord!” It's a word reserved for next Sunday. There is an ancient tradition that some Christians follow, that they do not say this word, or sing it. Or pray it. From Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday. But it's a word of great joy and victory, and I hope you will join me next week as we share God's

word again.

 

Pastor Jim

Hosanna!

    

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