Preaching: Pastor Rebecca Henry
Date Presented: Sunday, April 9, 2017
Scripture Reference: Luke 19:28-40, 22:14-23:56
Sermon: Palm Sunday – Give Up Something Bad for Lent – Running Away
It is easy at times to hear this account of Jesus’ final week and to ask in bewilderment, and even disgust, “How, Judas, could you turn Jesus over to authorities, someone who believed in you, someone who loved you? How, Peter, could you just act like you didn’t know Jesus? He even warned you; you could have recognized it the first time someone asked you. You didn’t have to keep denying Jesus, but you did. Why? Why did you do that? Did all of you just forget all he did for you, everything he taught you? Did you forget how he taught about peace and forgiveness that you striked out in violence? Did the last several years mean nothing to you?” Indeed as we hear the passion of Christ we are left with questions.
Only as we live through this week, as we reflect and allow ourselves to enter into the story without all of the information and perspective of 2,000 years, even 3 days for that matter, we know the answer. We face the truth that we probably would have done the same thing because most of us have a tendency to run away from our problems.
We spent so much of our energy and time trying to avoid or hide form our problems. The evidence is clear and all around us. We don’t like conflicts and disagreements with people so we don’t talk face to face about concerns or ask questions to try and understand one another. Instead we avoid each other or walk out. We blame each other for problems rather than working together to figure out a way forward. We refuse to go to counseling or to go see a doctor because we hope the aches and pains of our body or the negative feelings and irritability will simply take care of itself and go away. We sit and watch TV or play video games to avoid tensions in the home or to numb the pain of what is happening in our lives. We hear about the rising use of drugs, as people try to avoid problems in their lives. People become addicted to pain killers as they seek to avoid pain from an accident or to sleeping pills because they struggle with stress at work. Even in this past year studies have been showing a rise in deaths among younger white males as they overdose or commit suicide because of financial burdens, health scares, or family problems. Indeed all we have to do is look at society to see that we run away from our problems.
We don’t like or want to deal with the ugly hard stuff in our lives so much so we even miss the painful self-reflections of Holy Week services and come only for the celebration of Easter. In the end we sound and act a lot like the disciples who wanted Jesus to turn and leave Jerusalem, who stayed silent in the face of opposition.
Only Jesus shows us a different way. Jesus shows us how to stop running away from our problems and to face them. Jesus himself did not run from the opposition; he continued to have conversations with Pharisees and Sadducees even when they were trying to trap him or challenge him. He kept moving towards Jerusalem even as tensions heightened. He did not run.
Instead he turned to those around him for support. He ate with his friends. He asked them to stay with him as he prayed.
And he trusted God. He trusted God to be with him, to give him the strength to do God’s will. Christ trusted that the cross, that his suffering would not be the end, but that God would redeem his pain and suffering. And so rather than running away, Christ faced the cross.
We, too, can stop running away from the pain and troubles of our lives. We can face and live through the suffering knowing that Christ, who knows for himself what it means to suffer, is with us. And we carry with us the assurance, the hope, that God leads us through to a time of celebration, of freedom, of opportunity. We can stop running and choose instead to put our confidence in God.