Sunday 1 April 2012

Palm Sunday 2012-Lent for Ordinary People

lindisfarne crossing, holy island, nothumberland

The context of the ride into Jerusalem we remember from Johns gospel, is the healing and raising from the dead of Lazarus. Why else would the people suddenly recognize who Jesus was...Why else would they process and chant in such a manner? Mary the sister of Lazarus recognised this when she took the perfume and poured it over Jesus "for the day of his burial". The plot has thickened, the chief priests are planning to kill Jesus because of this raising from the dead. And so you get this commotion, this riot, this revolution. It is very surprising that when the secret is out, Jesus fully acknowledges who he is and enjoyed for a moment the adulation and the full meaning of him riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. For a moment the mood was different. And the disciples did not understand what was going on until they looked back on events.

And so we have before us a story of love and hate. A story of duplicity. Jesus has stirred up such feelings in people that some love him worship him and some are threatened by him, because he is too powerful for them, too popular. Time and time again the gospels tell us that Jesus knew the people and the implication is that he knew they were not sincere. It is the knowledge of a mature person. And how right he was

I, like most of my generation am influenced by what I see, and feel much more than what I read or hear. And so my path is rooted in experiences. 

I remember the devotion of Dr Cicely Saunders working with the terminally ill in her hospice for the dying in South London and how I was profoundly changed by her explanation that she did it because of her faith in Christ. It gave my life a whole new perspective and possibilities because of the energy of such a commitment and the source of that energy. I remember the monks who worked with the homeless in Central London and their quiet devotion. I remember the devotion shown to me by those who have maturely worked out their faith in Christ and I am hallowed and changed by their love.

And so it is that I know that today I follow Christ because I want to live up to that life expressed in the life of Jesus and the love of those around me. And I know it is the best place to be. Not that it is easy, it isnt. Not that I dont have very bad times, I do, but I know that I have experienced a glimpse of something transcendent and whether in the bad times you believe Jesus exists or not, whether there is life after death or not, it gives such deep satisfaction to follow in that way.

I have no doubt that the world desperately needs an injection of those who are crazy enough to commit themselves to follow Christ however that is interpreted. It will not come from cajoling. It will not come from sermons. It will come when you see that deep commitment worked out by someone who touches your life. It will come through seeing love in action.

You can commit yourself to many other things but if you commit yourself to following Christ, you are committing yourself supremely to a life of love, love worked out in the grime and grit of families and relationships, love worked out in the tensions and stresses at work, a love which is attractive, energizing and wholesome, empowering and inspiring and to follow Christ up and down the length of our days despite doubts and serious failures!



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