This Sunday is one of those pageant days. The start of Holy Week starts with a palm parade into the sanctuary for us today to the strains of All Glory Laud and Honor ( https://hymnary.org/hymn/LSB2006/442 ). But then with the readings it takes a turn toward the end of the week with a full reading of Luke 23 which is the trials before Herod and Pilate, the cries of the mob, and the crucifixion. At least the way we do it the hymns are key. The Pomp of Palms and the cries of Hosanna give way to the tumult of the streets and Pilate’s vain weaseling captured so well in No Tramp of Soldiers Marching Feet ( https://hymnary.org/hymn/LSB2006/444 ). After the crucifixion Come to Calvary’s Holy Mountain ( https://hymnary.org/hymn/LSB2006/435 ) sing what has happened for us. And as we turn to go back out into the world, or to walk our way through Holy Week once again, we remember the end point with Ride On, Ride On, in Majesty ( https://hymnary.org/hymn/LSB2006/441 ). “Bow thy meek head to mortal pain, then take O God thy power and reign.” I’ve left in the recording snips of those hymns. It really is a liturgical day that is tough to capture just in a recording. We are recreating the week in an hour. The sights, and sounds and emotions.
Something I have been struggling with thematically with this day is how to preach it. Growing up this was just Palm Sunday. The Passion was for Thursday and Friday. But given the loss of piety, the reality was that many people would skip from the Triumphal entry to Easter Resurrection without even breezing past Calvary – a tragedy. So the reading was smashed into today. But what joins the Palms and the Passion? That is something I’ve been searching for. And I think this year I understand something I didn’t in previous years. It is the mob. Even more acutely in Luke, both are the will of the mob. Both are expressions of desire revealing the division of the ages. I’m leaning a bit on Rene Girard and his mimetic desire here. But it is a story captured fully in scripture. And it is one I see played out more and more. And it is the choice we have. He’s the King. We can crucify our desires and accept his grace, or we can let the mob rule. Anyway, I don’t know how well this walks outside of the liturgical framework, but I like it.
Text: Luke 17:20-37 (cross reference Hebrews 6:1-3)
In our Sunday study we’ve been looking at Hebrews and the above link ties into what must have been the outline of the basic catechism or teaching: repentance, faith, baptism, laying on of hands (ministry/healing), resurrection and judgement. I’ve been thinking about that list and the current state of the church. The author to the Hebrews says those are the basics and encourages his readers to greater understanding. Of those six subjects for lack of a better term, which of them are emphasized? Which are missing? Are any over done?
My gut reaction is that in many places the only one of the six that receives its due is faith – but the even that is not a grounded faith in the person of Jesus Christ but a vague warm fuzzy of faith in faith, a sing-songy “My faith will see me through”. Part of that is the shortening of our vision. As in our primary text, things go on as in the days of Noah or the days of Lot. People are born and die; People get married and give in marriage. We eat and drink, buy and sell, and build. And we think that it will go on like this forever gradually forgetting the judgement. When there is no judgement, who needs repentance? If there is no need for repentance, who needs a preacher or a baptism? When there is no New Jerusalem, what does resurrection mean – aren’t we just going to be spirits in a utopian heaven?
This is not to fall into the Hellfire and Brimstone mode of preaching, but to lift our eyes out of the insignificant toward the significant. That is what the judgement does. The things that go on here and now will continue and they deserve their time. There is a time for everything under the sun. But in light of the judgement, the captial letters DAY OF THE SON OF MAN, they are somewhat insignificant. Of true significance is the acceptance of a personal small letter day of the son of man. On that capital letter day there will not be time. It comes like lightening. One is taken and one is left. Today is the day of grace. Today is the day we repent and have faith in the works of the Son of Man – Jesus Christ – who washes us in the waters of baptism and puts his Spirit in us. Our faith rests secure in that Day of the Son of Man.