Psalm 118: 1,2 & 15-20
MATTHEW 21: 7-11


It was an event. All of those near Bethany were receiving messages … come to the hillside of the Mount of Olives … bring branches from your palm trees! Get ready to take SELFIES of your buds and of your family … you might even get Him in one! It seemed like this was going to be the media event of Passover Week and it was about to begin! At least on that day they thought this would be THE EVENT … little did they know.

And, so they came. It must have been a sunny day because they would pack the hillside, standing close to their neighbors and strangers from the crest of the hill to the valley below. Perhaps some remembered the prophet’s words that day … “Say to Daughter Zion, “Look your king is coming to you, humble and riding on a donkey, and on a colt the donkey’s offspring” but until they saw him they wouldn’t know that is how Jesus would be descending the hill. It was an event! An historic event Biblical in fact!



Oh, to have heard the shouts … oh to have witnessed the joy … oh to have seen the teens squeezing in for their photo’s … an amazing day .. a day that drowned out the Roman legion’s well practiced synchronized boots marching into Jerusalem from the northwest bringing the region’s governor Pontius Pilate to their city … about that same time on that same day but then again that’s his story, his chanting crowd … that’s for later in the week isn’t it. Humanity is so fickle … shouts of acclamation filled with joy on a Sunday that can quickly transform on a Friday to chants of jeering, mocking and hate.

Where do you stand on PALM SUNDAY friends? Are you fickle? Do you find yourself wanting to rush to wave the palms of recognition for your Savior because of this day or because of what is in your heart? Do you want to shout acclamations to this Healer? Are you wanting to shout public praise to the One who continues, even in our times, to teach a lesson of love, forgiveness, and unity? Or is that for this day only because the calls to jeer and condemn energize some deep appeal in you on the other days?

HOLY WEEK has arrived and obviously in this year 2020 … we are experiencing an entirely new Holy Week, which should perhaps be the most spiritually challenging Holy Week of each of our lives. We are isolated and socially distanced … we are in times that no one would have forecast a year ago on Palm Sunday and yes, the shadow of death is in the air.

I don’t say that as a pessimist who is casting dark and dreary forecasts towards our future because I am an optimist and I will tell you a secret filled with optimism …. On EASTER morning we will once again celebrate a Risen Savior who provides hope and possibility for all today, tomorrow and in the months and years to come. A Savior providing a pathway to eternal life! A Savior who offers a path of Light even on the darkest of our days and yes, a Savior who clearly teaches His followers how to live each day not just on certain ones designated on our calendars.

I am speaking as a pastor who is a realist whose heart is breaking when I hear of religious leaders claiming God is punishing us because the political agenda they disagree with has helped and cared for people they don’t like in this nation. I am stating that this HOLY WEEK should and must be the most spiritually challenging Holy Week in our lives because it is the one we are living through and the one that is giving us extra time to consider just who the HOLY ONE is … and how we should be responding in our lives to Him. Friends His name is JESUS the CHRIST! We spend too much birthday time with Him and not enough time listening to the ultimate rabbi and teacher who very clearly tells us how to live… we are usually too busy for the Savior part but not now; not in these days.

HOSANNA … HOSANNA … shout HOSANNA in the Highest! Wake up your children! Wake up your neighbors! Make them wonder what in the world is going on in your isolation … have you lost your marbles shouting HOSANNA or have you once again found your SAVIOR and want the world to know? You want your neighbors to have this hope and salvation … shout it out friends HOSANNA to GOD … HOSANNA JESUS!

Who is hearing your HOSANNA’s my friends … who has found out that your allegiance is to a mighty king who rode down a hill towards the City of Jerusalem that day … the Son of God … the Savior to All … a Revolutionary whose teachings that countered the rich and powerful and highly exalted religious leaders so much that they plotted His death … fed the fury of the crowd … put Him to death on a cross thinking it was finished but they were so wrong … they hoped their lifestyle rejecting the lessons of God to care for those who are hurting no matter who they are or what they look like would rule the day. They did all they could to reject the lessons of God to love all neighbors including the rejects of society who were targeted by the powerful bullying voices. They thought they could put Jesus down by putting Him on a cross but they were so wrong because Jesus lives … Jesus rose from the dead. HE IS RISEN … <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>>

So, church wherever you are this morning from Bangladesh to the Arizona deserts … are you ready to bow down to the King of Kings? The Lord of Lords? Are you ready to join the psalmist in proclaiming, “God’s faithful love lives forever!” Don’t you wish you had a palm in your hand right now to wave with all the energy in your body to proclaim HOSANNA … HOSANNA HOSANNA in the HIGHEST?

I wish I was looking at a church filled with palm waving people of faith right now. I so wish that you were here but as I look out I can imagine your beautiful faces watching from every corner of this globe. You may have noticed what I have been waving since this service started … it’s a palm cross. It’s one of many palm crosses that I have; all of which were made by a young woman whom I have known since she was a young girl.

Every Palm Sunday, Amanda Rosenberg has taken a palm from the Palm Sunday worship service and she has made me a palm cross. It has been years since I was her pastor but every year after Palm Sunday a palm cross comes in the mail for me but not this year. I am not sure whether Amanda and Kevin are watching this morning but her crosses are in my office and in my home. They speak of Jesus Christ and they speak of another person’s faith walk. Amanda went from cantankerous young teen to become my Sunday School Superintendent and now she is a teacher of children. She knew I was not an artsy crafty kind of guy and in a sermon I mentioned that I wish I could make palm crosses … well ever since that day they arrive for me.

But, not having palms this year does not mean we don’t have Jesus church. Not being at a Palm Sunday service does not mean you can’t shout acclamations to God and celebrate your faith wherever you are. Those who know me know I don’t mind jumping up and down to celebrate my faith … I don’t mind singing loudly … and I love waving my palms on Palm Sunday but how are you celebrating having Jesus in your life? The real truth is that we need God in times of challenge … we need Jesus when our world is collapsing around us and even though we need God and Jesus in the good times … it is a lot easier to push them aside in those moments. But do you have them today? SHOUT HOSANNA!

But, here we are in the midst of a global pandemic … no one is exempt from it. The last thing I would ever do is to put all of you at risk by suggesting that you come to church next week where you could spread the virus and kill others. Glenda, Rich, Bev, and I are maintaining a distance from each other. So where have you put God and Jesus? Where should they be? … I need to talk to your today and tomorrow.

Frankly, God keeps calling to every person every day .. CONNECT WITH ME; no God isn’t texting us like on that tv show … but it doesn’t matter if you have been out on a life journey dismissive of God and rejecting the clear and obvious lessons of Jesus because today is your new day. If you have had a faith life but know it could be better … this is your new day too! This is our Holy Week … it is time to get closer to God and Christ. If you need to see God’s perspective of the missing one coming home to God read the story of the Prodigal Son. Once you have God connected to your very inner being … once you know for sure that Jesus is the ONE … that you know God’s love came through Jesus … then read the Gospels to see what God is asking … it’s basically about love … loving ALL … forgiving ALL … this week more than 10 volunteers or volunteer couples from this church will be delivering boxes of food to hungry poor neighbors … that is love. Not a single person asked what the recipients looked like or whether they deserved the food … these folks just stepped up and said “I’m in … I’ll help … tell me when.”

A number of years ago I was in a workshop led by David Crowder, a popular Christian recording artist. There were about 50 of us in the session and David asked us whether we knew the story of Palm Sunday. And, of course we did. He asked us if we had been in Jerusalem that day whether we would have done all we could to be on the hillside waving palms and shouting HOSANNA’s loud HOSANNA’s to Jesus. And, again we all said yes. He asked even if shouting the HOSANNA’s and praise to Jesus was seen as being undignified by our neighbors, our friends, and our co-workers would we still be willing to wave palms and praise God and Jesus with every bit of energy in our soul. I remember he hesitated and in his west Texas drawl he said something like … most people of faith find it easy to praise God in church and worship but to gain attention in public where no believing friends roam … that is the measure of faith and witness that most can’t take on.

He then led us in singing an acoustic version of his song Undignifed “I will dance, I will sing to be mad for my King. Nothing Lord is hindering this passion in my soul. Leave my pride by my side and I’ll become more undignified than this some may say its foolishness but”

So, we are here on Palm Sunday … shout loud Hosanna’s. HOSANNA TO MY KING!

In our reading from the Psalms you heard this lesson, “The Lord is my strength and protection. My saving help! The sounds of joyful songs and deliverance are heard in the tents of the righteous.”

My challenge for your consideration today is to think about who is hearing your HOSANNA’s to God and Christ. Are your neighbors hearing the sounds of joy and deliverance? Are you willing when this service ends to go to your door … open it … and shout HOSANNA HOSANNA JESUS IS ALIVE! MY SAVIOR LIVES … or is that a bit too undignified or foolish for you?

When we are fully connected with God and Christ … our hosanna’s will be heard whether through our voices or our actions! When we are fully connected with God’s love we will share love but we will also sense the hope of the Holy Spirit and have nothing to fear.

I would have loved to have been on that hill but the rest of the week has a dark cloud on the horizon … friends, GIVE THANKS to the LORD for HE is good!! HIS FAITHFUL LOVE lives forever!


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