Psalm 118: 1-2 & 19-29
JOHN 12: 12-16


I wonder quite frequently … I actually often think about those of us living here in the 21st century because I am an inquisitive sort of guy … and one of the ongoing questions I have is, do we understand and accept God’s love? Actually, that is just one of the many questions that have occupied my mind through the years about the Christian church, people who go to church, those who call themselves Christian, and the connection and relationship between them and God. But the question about understanding God’s love is a question that periodically really gets to me. Perhaps no more strongly than in the Lenten Season.

And, on Palm Sunday … a day that if Mr. Peabody and his ‘WAY BACK MACHINE’ had openings for anyone or if H.G. Wells was offering rides in his TIME MACHINE … I’d be hopping into their time traveling devices to join that hillside crowd on PALM SUNDAY to witness this special person named Jesus Christ traveling down the Mount of Olives on the back of a donkey being praised by all around Him. I’d want to hear the cheers … the Hosanna’s … see those right along the roadside holding their cell phones up to get SELFIES as Jesus and His disciples went by. Maybe get myself on the evening news’ broadcast … ya know with Jesus and His disciples in the background … smiling and waving at the cameras shouting HOSANNA not worried who saw me celebrating Jesus.

The noise along that dusty hillside would be rising to the level of a stadium crowd but this time it would be for OUR Lord and Savior … the Son of God … the Messiah … Emmanuel, GOD WITH US … I’d cheer my lungs out … perhaps I’d even cry tears of joy … it would be such an incredible personal blessing to celebrate in person God’s love for everyone, not just for me but God’s love for all that is alive and well for each and every human being. A love that God demonstrated through Jesus Christ’s life, teaching, and even though no one on that hillside knew what was going to happen God’s love was proven later that week through Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection.

I would be traveling through time to that original Palm Sunday parade already knowing about Easter and knowing that Jesus Christ is risen <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>>!! OH YES HOSANNA, HOSANNA JESUS IS RISEN …. What joy fills my heart church!!!

I would be in agreement with the psalmist “THIS IS THE DAY … WE WILL REJOICE and BE GLAD IN IT!!!” An everyday truth … HOSANNA, HOSANNA!

Perhaps if Mr. Peabody and Sherman’s WAY BACK machine had room for many or we could find the TIME TUNNEL to book a train so that a large number of us could travel to that day and place. Friends, wouldn’t you want to join me? Wouldn’t you want to celebrate God’s love through Jesus Christ with me? REJOICE and BE GLAD in GOD’s LOVE? Wouldn’t you want to cheer on God’s loving gift, God’s Son, and not give a care who heard you or noticed your smile or joy or celebration or faith? Isn’t waving the palms and shouting HOSANNA HOSANNA HOSANNA be the least you could do for Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ fulfilling prophecy on the back of that donkey … riding down the hillside towards the city of Jerusalem where the world would be changed within 7 days? A God love moment … a reason to be alive in faith!

If I could carry Aunt Hazel’s COWBELL in those time traveling machines I’d have it with me … I’d pack noise making devices for me and I would even try to find room for all of you offering you noisemakers as well because we would be celebrating God’s Son, Jesus Christ … together … because I’d hate to think that only I am celebrating and rejoicing and being glad in God’s love! We’d pick up the palms and we’d wave them … not embarrassed not holding back … not sitting quietly as if God’s love didn’t matter.

Would you be shouting HOSANNA … HOSANNA … with me? Waving your palms alongside of me and all the others? Get on the evening news as a Jesus supporter, let your neighbors and friends and family see your joy in your relationship to God and to Christ? JOY TO THE WORLD THE LORD has COME!! LET EARTH RECEIVE … oh well … perhaps He’s not quite your king or worth your joy and celebration.

Of course, I’d want to escape from that place before Thursday … it was getting dark in that society just like in ours. Voices of division were conspiring together. Religious leaders and the powerful … trying to turn the crowd’s loving frenzy for God into a chanting mob opposing anything and anyone associated with the concept of loving one’s neighbors. Those who treasure their personal power never like the light of kindness; they fear humanity’s potential connection to God’s expectations that might lessen human devotion to themselves. Those in Jerusalem that week knew from the prophet Micah what God expects from humanity … TO DO JUSTICE … TO LOVE ALL of OUR NEIGHBORS with MERCY and to WALK HUMBLY with GOD … the powers of darkness of the week planned and schemed and shouted that those things were wrong and they ended up getting the crowd of people into a frenzy, confused with their lies to the point that some of the people shouting Hosanna’s on the hillside ended up chanting CRUCIFY HIM CRUCIFY HIM on Friday morning.

It is so easy to get caught up in the world isn’t it friends. How often do we feel the need to push God aside so that we can be a cheerleader for something or someone the world puts in front of us even if that choice clearly counters God’s teachings … how many humans in the neighborhoods we live in are lining up in an attempt to find human gods rather than the God of creation. Don’t you find it remarkable that we will wave flags and banners out in public and amongst our friends for almost anything or anyone other than God and Jesus Christ? But to wave the palms for Jesus shouting Hosanna’s is really difficult and troublesome for so many because someone we know might see us or make us feel like we don’t belong to the world that they treasure.

We have arrived at Holy Week 2024 … today is Palm Sunday … Wednesday is Holy Wednesday when we will offer a morning Communion service to a nearly empty church … Thursday night Maundy Thursday … Friday Good Friday … and next Sunday Easter, one of the two days of church attending obligation amongst those who avoid church on the other 360 plus days of the years as if worshiping and praising God will give them the plague rather than Salvation but never fearful of their political rallies, their sporting events or whatever other priorities rank about God and Jesus Christ much less allowing the Holy Spirit to actually lead them into a life that God and Christ calls us to … to be PEACEMAKERS … to CARE for the HUNGRY and POOR … TO LOVE ALL of our NEIGHBORS … and yes, to lift up praises to God.

So, how has this Lenten Season treated you? Busy huh? I have to admit that I was sadly surprised to discover that almost none of our Confirmation class members who have phones had a Bible app on their phone. Perhaps their families read Scripture daily together so there is no need for that app. An app that allows those of us in the 21st century to always have God’s Word with us. Have you ensured that your young people have the BIBLE APP or … Have you found quiet places to escape WITH God this Lenten Season so that your souls … your spirits … you could be restored not be the world’s chaos but by God? Have you been praying more? Have you fasted ….

Oh, speaking of fasting and prayer. My heart surgeon, yes I am going to need to have a defibrillator implanted into my heart, invited us to his mosque for IFTAR this week. Last night in Willingboro, there was an incredibly loving and welcoming service and meal at my doctor’s mosque. It was a service to pull together the community as VOICES for PEACE. It is the season of Ramadan, which this year coincides with our Lenten season. As I entered the mosque knowing that Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam I thought about our, Christians, relationship with God. Our understanding of God’s love for us and perhaps even more so I started to consider what we are willing to do for God. Would we really fast, not eat, for God? Pray five times a day, for God?

My doctor, his family, the members of his mosque, and my other Muslim friends use Ramadan to focus in on their faith. For a month they do not eat nor drink from dawn until sunset. I watched as the men all got down on their knees and bowed and prayed. I knew that they are required to make donations to feed the poor especially during Ramadan. They read from the Quran about how they value Jesus, how we all are connected through Abraham and Hagar and Sarah and Ishmael and Issac.

And, driving back on I-295 I was wondering how many Christians would give up eating for a month to focus in on God because the Imam last night said that when they feel hungry during the daytime that they thank God for all that God gives them. I wondered how many Christians do a single thing differently during Lent than the rest of year and how many of us even care to get closer to God until of course we are sick or dying or have a friend or family member that is sick or dying … because we love the world so much but know enough to call out in need to God. God never lets go … never!

But, as I walked the dog past this beautiful church last night with the delicious IFTAR meal still resonating … I looked up to the cross and smiled. Out loud I said, THANK YOU GOD for your love! THANK YOU FOR JESUS!!!

But church … most importantly God loves all of us continually. God wants all of us to be in a relationship with God that’s one of the reasons that God offers to restore our souls when we head to a place of stillness. “God’s faithful love lasts forever! God has shined a light upon us!” That light is Jesus Christ … so are you willing or even interested in declaring to the world that you accept the light, that you value the love of God … do you choose to declare with shouts of hosanna that “GOD YOU ARE MY GOD … I WILL LIFT YOU UP!!” God wants our faith, our belief and to live like we believe and love God in return. He wants our praise too … our HOSANNA’s!

This is Holy Week … the hillside road that Jesus rode down that day on his way into the valley that leads to Jerusalem has an interesting juxtaposition at the foot of the hillside. On the right-hand side is the Garden of Gethsemane (GETH SEH MUH NÉE) where Jesus would pray and be arrested on Maundy Thursday. On the left is the traditional burial ground … a cemetery. Jesus and the parade passed both …

And, the great crowd took palm branches and went out to meet Him. They shouted HOSANNA!!!” Later in the week we know that the Lord God acted for all of humanity. A day that should lead us to rejoice and celebrate every day with loud Hosanna’s of joy! Believe friends; declare LORD PLEASE SAVE US … we believe! Have the courage to declare “We love you God” Be thankful for God’s love through Jesus Christ!! HOSANNA HOSANNA HOSANNA!! AMEN

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