Sunday, April 17, 2011

'Hosanna' or 'Crucify?'

The Palm Gospel is Matthew 21.1-11 & the Passion Gospel is Matthew 26.14 - 27.56

     light rain
       ~a larger drop
          from leafless tree


We did a dramatised reading of the long Passion Gospel today. Because of the length we decided to do without a sermon and let the Gospel story speak for itself for once, without the filter of clergy interpretation. So I was spared having to write a sermon this week - and more importantly, the parishioners were spared having to listen!

But I did preach on this theme this week, at the end of school service for one of the parish schools. We used a dramatised version of the Palm Gospel. There were a lot of parents and teachers there during the talk I divided them up into three groups and assigned each one of the lines the crowd called out during Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. First I got them to call the lines out in rotation, then I speeded it up until we had a wonderful cacophony of shouting and laughter. There was around 300 people there, so you can imagine the volume of noise - I think it helped give the children a feeling for the excitement of that day. Then I called for silence (good job I had a microphone!) and asked the question: does anyone know what this same crowd was calling out a few days later? A hand went up and I gave the microphone to a little girl who said: Crucify him.

This being mainly a group of children, I wasn't going to attempt a deep theological discussion. But I think the point was made in a in subtle way. The same people who cried 'Hosanna' that day, cried 'Crucify' only days later. And we who cry 'Hosanna' with our lips are also the ones who cry 'crucify' with our deeds.

I finished by asking the children which they thought Jesus deserved: Hosanna or Crucify? They all shouted Hosanna and we entered into another glorious bedlam of enthusiastic sound. And they I again called for silence and asked them to remember to always cry hosanna to Christ with their lives. I pray that you may do the same. Amen.

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