"Palm Sunday" - March 28th, 2021
"Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of the donkey."
Message of Stewardship
from Claudia Tumaliuan
Like so many of you, this week I will be dying Easter eggs. Oh, that is just one of my favorite parts about the Holy Week time!
You know, I have a very weird relationship with eggs. Fun fact about me: my family has a farm. Well, not my family - my uncle!
When I was little I would go to Iowaand I would spend like a week at their farm and my job was to gather Easter eggs. And as a city kid, that's weird. Why, you ask? Here's why. You have to distract the rooster because apparently they’re dangerous, I don't know if that's true. Then you had to throw feed to get the chickens out of the chicken apartment or they called it a coop. And then when all the chickens came out, then you ran real fast and went inside to gather the eggs.
And each time we went inside there was always a weird number of eggs. One day every hen had laid an egg. The next day maybe nobody laid an egg. One chicken even laid three eggs one day. I was sure that she was going to lay three eggs the next day. She didn’t.
You know, your offering is a lot like that. It doesn't matter when you give or how much you give. You could give today. Tomorrow. Saturday. Right at noon! And it all is gathered up. And it all goes back to providing for our church family. Keeping the lights on.
My uncle on his farm, they use the eggs to feed their family and we literally do the same thing with your offering. So no matter what you give or when you give, it's all appreciated.
"Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who were following were shouting, 'Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!'"
Pastor Michael's Sermon - March 28th, 2021
In 1974, my grandmother surprised me and my brother by telling us that she was going to be taking us to the next Rose Parade. I've lived in California my whole life,
but I had never actually been to the Rose Parade, just watched it every year on television. And I think she told us a whole year earlier because well, my grandmother was not about to camp on the sidewalk overnight to see the parade
and so we were getting tickets and sitting in the bleachers.
She had this idea that we would buy the tickets together. She would buy half of the ticket and we would buy the other half of the ticket. So she told us very early in the year so that we would have enough time to earn the money for our half of the tickets.
Now our half of the ticket wasn't really much money, but at the time my brother and I were 10 and 9, so we needed some time to raise our half.
Anyway, we did raise the money and I remember the whole year being so excited that we were getting to go to the parade.
Well, in April of that year Hank Aaron beat Babe Ruth's home run record by hitting his 715th home run. And if you were alive back then, you probably remember it because it was huge news. Hank Aaron was pretty much all that was on the television until about a month later when the Watergate hearings began.
Hank Aaron was so popular that it was announced that he would be the Grand
Marshall of the next Rose Parade on January 1st, 1975, the very parade that we were going to! Well if we weren't excited before we were really excited now.
So finally the day arrived we spent New Year's Eve at my grandmother's house in Lakewood and we had to go to bed very early because we had to get up at the crack of dawn to go to the parade. And that morning we drove to Pasadena and we found our place in the bleachers and I remember it was very cold.
I have a lot of good memories of that day. I remember being surprised how much more vivid the colors were on the floats in person rather than on television. The bands were exciting. I loved seeing the horses! But for me and I think for most of the crowd, the most thrilling moment was when that convertible slowly went by carrying Hank Aaron. There was this man that we had heard so much about, this man who people considered a hero and he was already being looked at as a legend. He was right in front of us and as he went by everyone was yelling out to him and waving banners.
You know at that time inflation was terrible and we were still fighting in Vietnam
and Nixon had resigned in disgrace just a few months before. Hank Aaron represented something positive. Someone who in the midst of all of our troubles could lift us all up.
When I read this story about Christ entering into Jerusalem, when I think about the Palm Sunday story, I'm often reminded of that day that Hank Aaron went by with everyone cheering for him. But of course, there are big differences in the two stories. Our cheers for Hank Aaron were cheers of adoration. Now, of course in Jesus case yes, there was surely adoration. People were spreading their cloaks.
They were waving the leaves and shouting, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” But there's something else that they shouted that makes the words of those around Christ go beyond simply adoration.
They shouted, “Hosanna!”
Now, although Hosanna is often thought to be an alternative for “Hooray!” it's really not the case. Hosanna is believed to come from two Greek words one meaning save us and the other meaning please. So when the people entering Jerusalem were shouting Hosanna, they were shouting to be saved.
But from what were they shouting to be saved? From what were they shouting to be saved? Well, there's two answers to that. First of all, they wanted to be saved from oppression. They wanted salvation from the Romans. The Israelites believed that this one who came in the name of the Lord could drive the Romans out.
But as I said when we hear the story of all the people shouting Hosanna, we also can't help but hear another type of cry for help.
When they shout save us, please, indeed they also shout for their own salvation. Their own personal salvation. As we read this story, we can't help but hear hosanna as a cry for personal salvation because we know that Christ is
indeed the one who can lead us to our salvation.
Although this story took place centuries ago, it is still relevant today. Even now people of this world continue to shout hosanna. We may not use that very word, but we still shout save us, please. What is it that compels us to shout hosanna today? What is it in this world and in our lives that invites us to shout save us, please!
When I watch the news, I see so many things for which we shout hosanna.
Right now there is an overwhelming number of young people, children who are being detained at our border and they are being held in facilities that were not designed for such large numbers, and the conditions of the facilities, the
accommodations, the beds are not satisfactory. And these young people are being held for longer periods than the law even allows now.
I don't care what political party you tend to vote for. This problem is bad under this administration and it was bad under the last administration. We've got to find a better solution. So we shout hosanna, save us, please.
And the problem actually extends farther than that.
It extends to the reason for their wanting to come to this country in the first place. Many are trying to escape suffering and oppression taking place in their own country. So for all of those around the world who suffer everyday from oppression,
we shout hosanna, save us, please.
There are over a half a million people in our country and 150 million people in our world who are experiencing homelessness. In a country as wealthy as ours and in a world that needs to be taking care of one another, these numbers are staggering and heartbreaking.
For our sisters and brothers who yearn to have a roof over their heads and food to eat, we shout hosanna, save us, please.
For a humanity that struggles with accepting difference, for a society that sees color as something that divides, for a systematic structure that allows race to be a cause for injustice. And for a culture that turns its back on all of it. We shout hosanna, save us, please.
This weekend ten people were shot overnight in Virginia Beach. Two of them died. Less than two weeks ago, eight people were shot and killed, six of them being Asian. A man went into three different spas in Atlanta, methodically shooting his victims. And then this past week in Boulder, Colorado, a man shot and killed 10 people who were simply shopping at a grocery store.
He began killing in the parking lot and then he made his way into the store.
He continued taking lives one by one with an assault-style weapon that he had purchased only six days earlier. These mass shootings have become woefully common in our country.
Now some will say guns don't kill people, people kill people and that's where the problem lies. It can be pointed out very often that it is shown that it is mental illness that causes these shooters to act out. But the truth is there is mental illness all over the world and yet these mass shootings are a uniquely American problem.
We are a culture where many have lifted up weaponry to a place of idolatry. And yes, the Constitution does allow for citizens to bear arms, but I am sure that those who created that document could never have envisioned the type of assault weapons we possess today. Except in times of war, I have heard no legitimate reason for anyone needing to possess assault weaponry.
We are long past the time for our leaders to do something about this uniquely American tragedy. The cost of not doing so is too high. For all the victims of all the shootings and for our country in need of new priorities, we shout hosanna, save us, please.
So even today we shout hosanna as a country.
We shout Hosanna as a people, as a world, and we shout hosanna as individuals.
We ask to be saved from circumstances.
We ask to be saved from indifference.
We ask to be saved from ourselves.
And I believe that just as Christ heard the cries of the people as he entered Jerusalem, he still hears our cries today. Christ hears our cries and responds to our hearts. While we are here on this Earth, we can still do our part to better those things from which we asked to be saved, and in doing so we will know that our work is not being done alone because Christ walks with us. Works with us. For he has heard our cry. Hosanna!
Holy God, we thank you for the gift of your son. May we feel his presence as we begin our walk through Holy Week. Remembering his death and glorious resurrection.
It's in your son's name we pray.