Saturday, March 19, 2016

Palm Sunday: "Let this mind also be in you, which was in Christ Jesus"

Passion Sunday/Palm Sunday
March 20, 2016
Fr. Phil Eberhart

"Let this same mind be in you, that was also in Christ Jesus"
After our march around the sanctuary / parking lot this morning and the reading we've just heard of the Passion Gospel, I want to just do a short meditation this morning, because for the most part, the ACTIONS of Holy Week, that we can all take part in, ARE THE SERMON!!
The power of liturgy and of these readings is in our identification with what was happening -- in our finding our part, our place, in the story.  Throughout this week I urge you to consider that question.  Where am I in this story ... His Story?
But this morning I want to help us find HIS STORY IN OUR MIDST.

If you have your bible turn with me to the book of Philippians, chapter 2.  Our reading this morning from this letter of Paul is perhaps one of the most ancient hymns of the church, set in prose, even in Paul's letter.  It is one of the most beautiful portrayals of Jesus self-giving, His humility and sacrifice that there is in all of Holy Scripture.
It is called by scholars the "KENOSIS" - the Self-emptying of God in Christ Jesus.
Look at your reading in your bulletin for a second:
The description of Jesus found here in three verses puts on display a kind of mindset and character that Paul wants the Philippians and US to emulate:

1.  "who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,"
      What is the mindset on display here?
       Unwillingness to grasp for position, power, prestige - unwilling to compare and compete!
       Jesus actually WAS GOD, not just in the form of God, YET there is the mindset, the 
          willingness to be abased.
         ... to be emptied of rank, of power, of position, of all that made Jesus appear to be God!

2.  "but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness."
      So for Jesus Christ it wasn't just a mindset, but it was an action. 
      He ACTUALLY EMPTIED HIMSELF.  God actually emptied Himself of His God-hood! 

One of my theology profs at ORU, brought an ant farm to class one day and asked us, "How can we make these ants know how much we love them?" At the end of the day, the answer was, "You have to become an ant!!"

3.  "And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death --even death on a cross."
      God, who cannot die, died!  And did so as an act of obedience to His own will! 
      Many of you know Fr. Mike Flynn.  Once when I was kneeling to receive communion
      from him, he handed me the bread and said, "This is the measure of God's Love for you
      and of your worth in His eyes!"
So what was Paul after when he quoted this song to the Philippian church? 
Well to find that out we need to look in our bibles.  Philippians 2: 1-4 hold the answer to that question:

[Phl 2:1-4 ESV] 1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Paul's word picture here is of a fellowship, a church, that displays the kind of mindset that Jesus had!  That is what he was after as he wrote this letter and quoted the song that was being sung at the time about the humility and self-emptying of Jesus Christ. Listen closely to these words...
    Encouragement ...   Comfort ...    Fellowship in the Spirit ...    Affection ...    sympathy/mercy.
    Be of the same mind ...  have the same love ... in full accord ... of one mind. 

Do you think there is a message here?

    Do NOTHING from selfish ambition or conceit.
    From humility - because of humility, --- count others as more significant than you are!
    look out for each other's interests, not just your own!
And then he says:  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus!

And so here is our story -- the place that we fit in the story of this week of the passion of Jesus!
We fit here in the Body of Christ - here in the midst of His People.  Among a people who have accepted the challenge to live life as Jesus lived life... to encounter and interact with one another on the basis of Jesus example, of "his mind."   Of His humility and selflessness.  Of His lack of striving for position and power.  Of his sacrifice and obedience.  Of his "alongside" encouragement!  Of His comfort that comes from unconditional love; Of being a participant and partaker in the move and power of His Spirit;  Of having the deep gut level compassion He had and holding out that same mercy to others that He gave us!
Does that sound like a church you would like to be a part of?
Does that sound like a church that might experience the same kind of "exaltation" that Jesus did? The kind where God is the one who exalts you, not you yourself!
How different from the world's system!!  How like ... um ... Jesus!
Let's pray!
This prayer comes from the verses Paul writes in the first chapter as he greets and prays for
the church:

8 ...God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.  Amen!
[Phl 1:8-11 ESV]

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