Matthew 21:1-11 – link to NRSV text
- Song Suggestions: Together To Celebrate
- Textweek: Palm Sunday – Year A – Textweek Resources
- Sarah Dylan Breuer’s Blog: Palm Sunday – Year A – Lectionary Blog
- Mustard Seeds: Palm Sunday – Year A – Worship Resources
Book: Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss
Purchase: Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
You’ll look up and down streets. Look ‘em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.
It’s opener there
in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.
I wonder if you remember being in a large crowd, where was it? How large was it? How did it make you feel? Was it a celebratory crowd, a sporting crowd, a drunken crowd, a family crowd, a protest crowd?
I remember being invited to go to the AFL with a friend of mine in Melbourne, he was a youth group leader and had organised to take his kids, all 10 of them to the Friday night AFL match, unfortunately he was low on leaders so I joined in as an extra hand, little did I realise that a Friday night game at the Telstra Dome attracts iver 40,000 people, games in Adelaide are nowhere near that large, and the venue is much smaller. So there I was, at the Telstra Dome with 10 young people, 3 leaders panicking that I’d loose one of them in the massive venue and crowd. It’s easy to loose yourself in crowds, it’s possibly easier to loose someone else, and this I was worried about more than anything.
This weekend we’re going to explore the image of the crowd. This week’s reading is a story of the great celebration as the crowd welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem, palm leaves were being waved around and placed on the ground for him to travel over, a donkey was ridden, (something that might have confused the people who had rocked up to see the event) and people celebrated and shouted out, lots of people, from all different walks of life.
Next week however we’re reminded that the same crowd, the same people would change their tune, the celebration turns into a riot of sorts as the crowd turns on Jesus and screams for Barabbus to be saved from his judgement instead of Jesus.
And even later in the week we hear the crowd jeered at Jesus, yelled at him, called him names, laughed at his pain and watched as his body was hung on a cross on a hill in between two other criminals.
It’s amazing how crowds can change at a whim, whoever said that 100,000 people couldn’t be wrong obviously has never been in a crowd of people that large, in particular I’m reminded of the large crowd attending a Spice Girls Concert, or a rioting football crowd in the UK, or…
But this isn’t the first time Jesus had been in a crowd, the gospel stories are full of him speaking, eating, celebrating and teaching in crowds. And up to this week we’ve heard about a lot of them, but almost every story has a particular individual or persons who step out of the crowd, who’s face is not lost in the many, who’s voice is not swallowed up by the noise, who refuses to blend in.
Lets think back…
- The friends who dropped their sick friend from a roof.
- The child with the loaves and fish.
- The woman who touched his garments
- Zaccheaus in the tree.
And in the story of the Passion, the criminal on the cross and then the roman soldier, the Centurion are the characters who’s faces are seen, whose voices are heard, who’s story we read.
If no-one’s really noticed, its not really the people we’d expect to be seeing stand out from the crowd in these stories… it’s the tax collectors, the bleeding women, the unclean, the tiny person, the youth, the possessed, the Centurion, the criminal…
These people step out of the crowd in most unexpected ways.
And for those people wondering why on earth I will read Dr Seuss in the children’s time…
In a world where people are so eager to stand out in the crowd, in a world where “extreme makeover” and “queer eye for the straight guy” and “Australian idol” and “Biggest Loser” and “So You Think You Can Dance” are trying to sell the dream of standing out in the crowd… In this world where I’m just not good enough, handsome enough, thin enough, strong enough, smart enough or talented enough to really stand out, (as it’s those who are who tend to be the one in the spotlight).
In this world we hear these stories again, like many have in the past and it’s in these stories of Jesus In amongst crowds that we realise that its not how we stand out in the crowd that matters. We hear these stories, we hear of how the peaceful, celebratory crowd changed from what we call “Palm Sunday” to a raging crowd of people calling Jesus names and shouting while he was nailed to a cross, and, in these stories, if we listen carefully we will hear the stories of the Centurion at the base of the cross and the Criminal on the cross.
We hear these stories and we’re reminded that we’ve been called, not to stand out in the crowd, but to step out of the crowd.
To be different for sure, but as I said it’s not to “stand out in the crowd” it’s to have the courage to “step out of the crowd” that we’re called to have, the courage to do something different, to not be sucked into the crowd mentality, to the crowd’s whims, to the crowd’s mood swings. Stepping out of the crowd involves a certain type of faith, a certain type of courage, a certain type of call on one’s life. It’s the call to work towards the Kingdom of God, and, it’s also in this week’s stories that we’re reminded, that by stepping out of the crowd we open ourselves up to the same fate that Jesus had, to not only live for what we believe, but also to die for it.
And, as the Dr Seuss story told us, it wont be easy, it wont always be fun. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in a crowd, getting dragged along… or being forced to wait in one of those awful waiting places…
But we’ve been called to move on, to go places, to meet people, to move mountains.
“It’s not a question as to how you stand out IN the crowd, it’s more a question as to when and how you step OUT of the crowd.”
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!