Sunday, April 13, 2014

Palm Sunday: A Passion Invitation

Palm Sunday
April 13, 2014
Fr. Philip Eberhart 

A Passion Invitation

Each Palm Sunday is the same - we do a prayer, we hear a reading, we bless and wave the palms and we sing.  The reading of the gospel we've just read and heard, included our own voices.  It is important to hear our voices in the crowd - especially the crowd as they cry, "Crucify Him!!!"

If Palm Sunday and Holy Week mean anything, friends, they mean that we are meant to take part - not just in the commemorative acts and remembrances, the activities of prayer, candle lighting, foot-washing, communion, but in the activities of suffering for another, of being rejected, of being beaten perhaps, certainly the taking up of our cross.

This is what Jesus had in mind when he challenged the disciples in this way.  The moments that we spend during Holy Week, whether we come to just this morning and next Sunday morning, or if we make it every time the doors open this week - all of those moments are about both remembering and identification.

When we did the Instructed Eucharist a few weeks back, at the beginning of this Lenten journey, we talked about the words of the Eucharistic prayer.  The $50 theological word that is used for that prayer is ANEMNESIS.  ANEMNESIS is a word that means to remember.  Through the prayer at the table, we are brought to remembrance - the whole story of God's salvation is brought forward into the present - in sharp focus like the image in a telescope.

But this remembrance is much more than just the memory of facts or simply a play on words that causes us to recall a certain set of circumstances.  Anemnesis, by the sacramental action of the Holy Spirit and by your faith filled participation, actually brings us to indentify with the story we are hearing and be become, as we later say in our prayer after communion, "very members incorporate in the Body of Christ Jesus!"

Friends, what God does here, in Eucharist every week and supremely, here from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday is bring us our of our amnesia.  Sounds about the same doesn't it?  AMNESIA  ---  ANEMNESIS;  but you see, amnesia is the opposite thing - the traumatic and tragic forgetting of who you are.  The severing of all the ties of history and relationship, of meaning and purpose gained through life experience - all washed away in a traumatic head injury that effects memory.

The problem is that we can sometimes suffer from this affliction, without even having a blow to the head.  We forget who we are in the course of and because of what our collect last week called, "the many and varied changes of the world," - what another calls "the changes and chances" of life.  Life causes us to forget Who we are and Whose we are!
Life's circumstances pile up and we forget what we are about - why we are here - and suddenly it becomes about living for the moment or just for the next day.

So I want to encourage you to listen and hear deeply this morning - this week and next.  Hear the voices of those around the cross, the voices of those who accuse and condemn, the voices of those who are uncertain and are caught in denial or even betrayal, the voices of love and pain, of long suffering and faithfulness.  Finally hear the voice of Jesus as He speaks from the cross:  "FATHER, FORGIVE THEM ! -  TODAY YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE -  IT IS FINISHED! - INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMEND MY SPIRIT."

And I want you to hear your own voice in the crowd on the way to the cross - in the voices crying CRUCIFY HIM!  Or in the voices shouting at him as he walks the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Suffering.  Or in the weeping of the women on the way - in the suffering of his mother and friends - in the words of comfort offered them.  Hear the voices and listen deeply - listen for the sound of your own voice.

Listen, and remember.  Remember and identify yourself in the story.  And as you remember and identify yourself in the story, allow Jesus to speak to you right now - as you hear His voice afresh.  Listen to him speak your name: _________, I forgive you.  ____________ I love you;
___________, come to me. _____________believe in me.

Can you hear him?  Just listen.  

This is your invitation into Holy Week.

Let us pray.


Dear Jesus,

By your cross and the blood you shed, you have made us worthy to be called Sons and Daughters of God - and you have re-membered the Body of Christ by incorporating us - each of us as very members of the incarnate Body of Jesus Christ on the earth.

Open our eyes to see you, our ears to hear you - open our hearts to receive your Word of forgiveness and peace.  Open our minds to know you more fully each day and then open our way before us to go in Your great and powerful Name, the Name of Jesus.


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