We have heard and read quite a lot this morning. There is so much to process in these texts and all that a preacher can hope to do is to ask you to sit with whatever spoke to you in the many texts we read this morning. If you are watching from home or reading this, I encourage you to go and read the texts beforehand.
This day liturgically is quite a head spinner. We begin with “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord”, and we end with Jesus being crucified. We do this because next Sunday is Easter and our Lord will be raised.
Passion Sunday is a unique moment in the life of the church, we have heard not one but two gospel texts this morning.
We have ended Lent and enter into this Holy Week. Holy Week. The most sacred week on our Christian liturgical calendar. A week that will culminate with a risen Saviour - which is what distinguishes our faith from other faiths.
My prayers for you this week - as you each contemplate what it means to serve a Risen Saviour and how this makes a difference in your life - include a prayer that this week may be a week of self-discovery for you. What can we learn about ourselves this week? What does it tell us about who we are?
Year C brings us Luke’s account of the passion. As a preacher, we ask, what is unique about Luke’s account that I would want you to look at or think about.
Fred Craddock, a great preacher who taught at Emory Candler School of theology, describes three responses that are found in the book of Luke to Jesus death, which are unique to Luke’s account. (Luke 23:48b) Our own responses are worth reflecting upon.
1. The response of the Roman centurion, who praised God and said surely this man is innocent (47); he who had practiced a mindless exercise of duty, (though he knew he was innocent).
2. The response of the crowds who returned home “beating their breasts” (a sign of desperation) (48); and
3. The response of Jesus’ “acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee” who “stood at a distance, watching these things” (49).
All of these responses lend themselves to a sense of helplessness or bewilderment, an uncertainty, not knowing what to do. A sort of “going along with things," (though I am not sure what their other options were).
There is much going on in our world. Things are moving at a quick pace. Many of us are feeling overwhelmed, possibly tired. Many of us are going along with things, not sure what to do, not sure what our options are.
As we begin this Passion week, and we “stand at a distance, watching these things,” much as the women who followed Jesus from Galilee, and we wonder what we can do, a question we may ask is what can we learn about ourselves during this time? What things do we need to notice and become aware of?
The passion has come. Often, we too, “Know not what we do.” Often, we “know not what to do”. Sometimes we just have to watch and stand at a distance. Joseph of Arimathea decided what he would do. He was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. He did what he could — he asked for Jesus body and wrapped it in linen. He did what he could.
You may be tired. You may be weary. You may not always know what to do, but we are called to do what we can. Like Joseph of Arimathea. He asked for the body and wrapped it. Lovingly.
In a time where we may not know what to do, we need to do the next thing before us. To do that which we can. This congregation is actively involved in supporting the Louisa Resource council, the Journey home, SHE, Angel Tree, Santa Council, Louisa Community Emergency fund, Episcopal Relief fund and many other organizations. We do what we can, when we can. That is all that the Lord requires of us. This is something we can do to support those around us.
Joseph did his part. The women did their part. They took note of the tomb and where he had been laid and prepared spices and ointments. Everyone did their part.
And, don’t miss this… in the midst of this life altering event…in the midst of this mind-blowing week culminating in the crucifixion of their Lord and leaving them not know which way to turn or what to do -- notice the last verse in Luke 23.
“On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”
In the midst of all that is going on in the world around us,
“On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” Luke 23: 56.
Sometimes what is required of us, is to rest.