Scripture Reading Isaiah 62:10-12
Go through, go through the gates,
prepare the way for the people;
build up, build up the highway,
clear it of stones,
lift up an ensign over the peoples.
The Lord has proclaimed
to the end of the earth:
Say to daughter Zion,
“See, your salvation comes;
his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.”
They shall be called, “The Holy People,
The Redeemed of the Lord”;
and you shall be called, “Sought Out,
A City Not Forsaken.”
A Word to Children & Youth (Rev. Jim Renfrew)
“See Your Salvation Comes!”
Have you ever been in a parade? They are colorful, festive, usually very loud with marching bands, with big crowds along the road clapping and cheering.
In years past we’ve had a Palm Sunday parade in the sanctuary, with children waving palms and shouting “hosanna”. But today, because of the Corona Virus, we can’t have a parade together.
But we are faithful, enthusiastic people and if there is a way to celebrate Palm Sunday, we’re going to find it. I really love being able to wave the palms together when we’re inside the church, so we have to wave them in our kitchen or living room this morning. Here’s how we are going to do it. Let’s take our palms and wave them on camera. Don’t have a palm branch? That’s ok, just wave the palms of your hands. OK, ready, let’s wave the palms. We can’t have a Palm Sunday Parade of children, but we can have this beautiful parade in in our hearts.
Hmmm, I love seeing the palms waving, but something is missing! It’s people shouting “hosanna”! I have a plan for that, too. This time when I ask you to wave your palms, I’m going to turn on everyone’s microphone, too, so this time shout “hosanna” so we all can hear. OK, ready, shout!
“Hosanna” was what they shouted when Jesus rode into Jerusalem. It means “God save us”, and all these years later when we shout “hosanna” we hope and pray for the same thing: God save us from sickness, from worry, from depression, from fear. Hosanna! See our salvation is coming!
Message (Pastors Dave Fish & Jim Renfrew)
“Palm Sunday Without a Parade”
Here is what we are missing today, children waving their palms and shouting “Hosanna”, maybe not understanding the depths of the story and the Cross that is approaching so quickly, but just feeling the happiness that comes so easily to children, even when the adults around them are troubled and worried. Long ago, it was a parade, in our imaginations including hundreds, even thousands of people, but today it is a parade without people.
Of course, children know that something is up, the cancellation of school classes like this has never been seen by any of us at this scale, and while children may not understand a lot about the economy or political leadership, they do know about sickness and disease. So Palm Sunday, this year, is with a dark cloud over our heads. “Physical distancing” means we are more isolated than ever before. It is a parade without people, or people without a parade.
Keep in mind that the Palm Sunday parade of long ago was not all joy and happiness. Things had gone terribly wrong in Jerusalem, the Romans had taken over Israel with a mighty army and subjugated the Jews, endangered their religion, and forcing them to pay high taxes.
So when Jesus came riding through the city streets the cries of Hosanna indicated that desperate people can seize on even a tiny shred of possibility and transform it into a hope. Rome was the most powerful empire the world had ever seen, and the followers of Jesus a tiny handful, but, in the end, Rome no longer exists as an Empire, and the tiny group of Jesus’ followers has grown into a two thousand year old movement of faithful people that continues to draw us into it’s hope and peace.
Celebrating Palm Sunday without a parade. How do we do it? We have to be a parade in a different way, maybe not as visible as we usually are, but in dozens of small ways representing the parade’s possibilities and power in the lives of the people we befriend and care for. Maybe not in person, but over the telephone, or through the mail, in errands that we run to help people. The church is not the building, it’s not even a parade, but it’s all of the people who would have been in that parade but able to do the work of Jesus in some small way to grow that sliver of hope into something amazing. Hosanna!