The Rev Cynthia KR Banks; Palm Sunday—Year A; Matthew 21:1-11; Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 26:14-27:66
What a trainwreck of a day! We go from “Hosanna!” to “Crucify him!” before we can even think about it. It’s all too much. It all happens too fast. How did it spin this far out of control? How did we lose our way this much?
How is it that we could proclaim him as our king on one day and seal his death by week’s end?
How is it that we can break bread with him and share the cup late into the night only to desert him at the morning light?
How is it that we sold the one in whom we had placed all our hopes and dreams, how is it that we sold that one for 30 pieces of silver, betrayed him with a kiss?
How is it that for all our professed love and loyalty, when push came to shove, and it really counted, we just couldn’t stay awake?
How is it that we denied our best friend?
How is it that this healer, teacher, preacher, feeder, sabbath-breaker, how is it that this man was such a threat to us that we had to get rid of him?
How is it that we, who ought to know holiness when we see it, how is it that we came to love our rituals and laws and traditions more than the one who showed us the heart of God?
How is it that expediency won out over our best intuitions?
How is it that we couldn’t convince the powers-that-be to listen to our dreams?
How is it that we got swept up in that mob and found ourselves shouting things that shocked our sensibilities?
How is it that we joined the cynics and the teasers and the taunters?
How is it that our hearts turned so cruel?
AND how is it that we found the strength to step out of that crowd and carry his cross?
How is it that we, who had followed him all the way from Galilee, how is it that we stayed when all the others had left? How is it that we kept our eyes fixed on him as the life drained out of his?
How is it that we stayed present when we felt completely forsaken by God?
How is it that we could step beyond our station, beyond our prescribed role, lay down our arms, and speak the truth even while the earth shook to its foundations?
How is it that we would risk our position, our status, everything, to ensure that this man got a proper burial?
And when that stone was rolled in front of that tomb and our hearts were broken with grief, how is it that we had the capacity to sit down and simply wait?
How is it that we can be such complicated, conflicted, callous, fearful, compassionate, heroic people?
We aren’t just one of these characters in this drama; we are all of them. All of these live inside of us; painful as it is, if we’re honest, all of these shoes fit our feet.
THIS is the drama that holds every aspect of our human existence, the good, the bad, the holy, the diabolical. It’s all there, and thank God it is, because it’s all of this that Jesus redeems when he stretches out his arms and holds it all in love.
It’s Holy Week. There is no getting to Easter without walking through this week, and it is painful to be sure, but laboring to be born anew always is. Follow him through all the twists and turns of this week. Follow him to the cross, and let him lead you through whatever it is in you that has to die this week.
Because, how else will you know the depths of joy to be found when the stone is rolled away? Amen.
The Rev. Cynthia K. R. Banks
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Boone, NC
April 13, 2014