Sermons 2006
"Journey into darkness", Palm Sunday B, 9 April 2006. Mark 11:1-11, 14:32-15:47

Home | "Light and Darkness", Christmas 2C, 31 December 2006, John 1:1-18 | Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2006 | "What then shall we do?", Advent 3C , 17 December 2006, Luke 3:7-18 | "Luke's Gospel", Advent 1C, 3 Dec 2006, Luke 21:25-31 | Which Jesus? Proper 29B 2006, 26 November 2006, John 18:33-37 | Apocalypticism and Fundamentalism, Proper 28B, 19 Nov 2006, Daniel12; Mark 13:14-23 | "The Widow's Mite: All and Everything", Proper 27B, 12 November 2006, Mark 12:38-44 | "The Commandments to love God, Neighbor, One Another" Proper 26B, 5 November 2006, Mark 12:28-34 | "Sight -- and Seeing" Proper 25B, 29 October 2006, Mark 10:46-52 | "Baptism: Overwhelming Washing", Proper 24B, 22 October 2006 Mark 10:35-45 | "God's Transforming Love", Proper 23B, 15 October 2006, Mark 10:17-31 | "Divorce", Proper 22B, 8 February 2006, Mark 10: 2-9 | "Hard Sayings and Sharp Words", Proper 21B, 1 October 2006, Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 | "First or Last?" Proper 20B, 24 September 2006, Mark 9:30-37 | "Unintended Consequences", Proper 19B, 17 September 2006, Mark 8:27-38 | "Ephphatha! Open up!" Proper 18B, 10 September 2006, Mark 7:31-37 | "Rituals", Proper 17B, 3 September 2006, Deuteronomy 4:1-9; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | "Choices." Proper 16B, 30 August 2006, Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-25; John 6:60-69 | "Come to the Table." Proper 15B, 20 August 2006, John 6:53-59 | "Do not be afraid." Proper 12B, 30 July 2006, Mark6:45-52 | "General Convention and Jesus' Compassion", Proper 11B, 23 July 2006, Mark 6: 30-44 | "Basics for the Journey", Proper 10B, 16 July 2006, Mark 6:7-13 | "Jesus and Rejection", Proper 9B, 9 July 2006, Mark 6:1-6 | "Trust, Faith, and Belief" Proper 8B, 2 July 2006, Mark 5:22-43 | "Storms, Fear, and Faith" Proper 7B, 25 June 2006, Mark 4:35-41 | Mighty things from Small, Proper 6B, 18 June 2006, Mark 4:26-34 | Trinity, Pentecost 1, 11 June 2006, Exodus 3:1-6; John 3:1-16 | The King Jesus Fire-Baptized Holy Spirit Church, Pentecost , 4 June, Acts 2:1-11; Jn 20:19-23 | "That they may be one" General Convention 2006, Easter 7B 28 May 2006, John 5:9-15 | "Friends, friendship, and love" Easter 6B, 21 May 2006, John 15:9-17 | Mother's Day, two mothers' love!" Easter 5B, 14 April 2006, John 14:15-21 | "Interesting, this Good Shepherd!" Easter 4B, 7 May 2006, John 10:11-16 | "How do you prove you are alive?", Easter 3B, 30 April 2006, Luke 24:36b-48 | "Do you believe because...." Easter 2B, 23 April 2006, John 20:19-31 | "He goes before you to Galilee...." Easter B 2006, 16 April, Mark 16:1-8 | "Journey into darkness", Palm Sunday B, 9 April 2006. Mark 11:1-11, 14:32-15:47 | "Sir, we would see Jesus!" Lent 5B, 2 April 2006, John 12:20-33 | "Miracles and Faith, Ordinary and Not", Lent 4B 2006, 26 March 2006, John 6:4-15 | "Rage, Rampage, and Outrage", Lent 3B, 19 March 2006, John 2: 13-22 | "Images of the Cross", Lent 2B, 12 March 2006, Mark 8:31-38 | "Baptism, Temptation, Redemption," Lent 1B, 5 March 2005, Mark 1:9-13 | Ash Wednesday , 1 March 2006, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | ""Nanny McPhee' and transfiguration", Epiphany Last B, Mark 9:2-9 | "Jesus, leprosy, and the law of Moses", Epiphany 6B, 12 February 2006, Mark 1:40-45 | "Healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and love", Epiphany 5B, 5 February 2006, Mark 1:29-39 | "Haints, Unclean spirits, and demons" Epiphany 4B, 22 January 2006, Mark 1:21-28 | Epiphany 3B, 22 January 2006, "God's Call -- and Our Response", Mark 1:14-20 | Epiphany 2B, 15 January 2006, "Call and Response", John 1:43-51 | Epiphany 1B, 8 January 2006, "The Baptism of our Lord -- and Ours", Mark 1:7-11 | The Holy Name, 1 January 2006, Luke 2: 15-21

Palm Sunday B 2006 Mark 14:32-15:47

Palm Sunday is the one time of the year when the whole congregation processes in with the choir, acolytes, and clergy. At least we do if the weather permits. Processions are like symbolic journeys. And any journeys can be nerve-wracking. There's all the packing to do. If we have children, they must be amused. Maps have to be consulted, arrangements made to stay in motels and the bank account raided. And then the travel itself – never easy these days. A journey is a major event. Our family journeys carry us westward to farther Kentucky and then South to Georgia, back through the Carolinas and then home. We stay exhausted for days afterward.

We might call Palm Sunday, "Journey Sunday." The lessons we read and hear take us from a field near Bethany to Jerusalem, from Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives, from there back to Jerusalem, and from Jerusalem to Golgotha. Finally there's the journey from Calvary to the tomb. Each one of these journeys is a major event in itself. Each new path taken seems to draw us deeper into the darkness of trial, crucifixion and that most horrible death on the Cross. Death and burial beckon us. Our Holy Week worship and observances only reinforce this reality. Perhaps that's why some of us avoid Holy Week – and many would like simply to get on to the Easter Parade. We like happy endings. We would prefer to skip the pain and get on with the joy!

One of the most neglected characters in the Palm Sunday story is the donkey. Donkeys are conservative folk. They like doing things the same old way. "Adventure" and "donkey" just don't go together.

The Palm Sunday story begins with a colt or donkey in a field. The donkey is obviously and Episcopalian because it loves tradition. It lives in the same field, treads the same path, and eats at the same hour-day-by-day, year-by-year. It might even prefer Morning Prayer to the Lord’s Supper – but, like Episcopalians every where, eating is a sacrament, too. Then one day, strangers enter the field, put a halter around the donkey and pull it away. Most donkeys would resist any change, however slight. Donkeys can be very stubborn. It is one thing to be called to do something within the context of the life we enjoy. Journeys of faith are something else.!

The donkey was taken to Jesus and clothes were put on its back. Jesus sat on the donkey. It had never been ridden before. Leave that to horses. The donkey might have done what donkeys do, reared, kicked, and thrown this person off. Carrying Jesus is for enthusiasts, religious fanatics, but surely not for us. What would our friends think?

Then the journey into Jerusalem began and the crowds cheered and gave Jesus a ticker tape reception. The donkey might have mistaken the cheers to be in honor and praise of donkeys! After all being a Jesus-carrying donkey was an extraordinary achievement. "A unique donkey am I," this animal might have thought. If it had attempted to acknowledge the crowds, Jesus might have been tossed aside. Instead the donkey plodded on to the place where Jesus would begin to complete his great work of redemption.

All through Holy Week we find people drawn to Jesus, who then almost immediately resist him, or try to change the story, avoid the consequences or denounce him. The crowds that had cheered him later cried "Crucify him!" Religious folk plotted his death. Most of the disciples ran away rather than face facing suffering and death. They feared the way the story was working out. They feared reality.

St. Peter denied him. After all Peter was important. He couldn't risk arrest. He was soon to be in charge. Jesus had told him so. In the end only Simon of Cyrene was prepared to be a faithful donkey and carry the cross, only the faithful and brave women and St. John, stood and watched the reality of a barbaric execution. Only Joseph of Arimathea was brave enough to offer a tomb and take Jesus’ body down from the Cross.

Each of these journeys draws us into a world that we fear – a world of darkness, betrayal, naked power, cowardice and death. Those of us who love a brave new world, inevitable progress, a comfortable pew, joy, peace, and love; who fear illness, separation, betrayal, darkness and death, may well be discomfited by this day and the days that lie ahead. Our faith is not an escape from reality. It draws us into the reality of this world as Jesus, who is one of us, and Jesus who is true God, confronts and submits to the worst human beings do in order to give us the grace to be the best human beings can be. Jesus dies. H e really dies an agonizing and dreadful death. In that agony, Jesus dies to all the acts of betrayal, false ambition, power, authority, evil and corruption that lie within the human race and within each of us.

For a few hours, when the last journey is over, we will be left with Jesus -- dead -- in a cold and dark tomb. There's no Easter in the lessons today. Nor will there be all week. Unless we can walk these paths, leaving our comfort zone, our self-satisfaction, daring to walk beyond safety into the darkness of evil and death, carrying Jesus to the tomb, we can not even begin to grasp the power of the Resurrection. We can only understand the Resurrection fully if we understand – fully – the meaning of the Crucifixion.


Adapted from a Palm Sunday Sermon for 9 April 2006 by The Rev. Anthony F.M. Clavier, Selected Sermons, Worship that Works,

Wicomico Parish Church
PO Box 70
Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579