April 21, 2019

Sermon – Palm Sunday 2019


Pastoral Message
V. Rev. Timothy Baclig, Pastor
Palm Sunday - April 21, 2019

Beloved in Christ,

Our celebration on Palm Sunday actually begins with the miracle of Christ raising of Lazarus from the dead. “Lazarus Saturday” prepares us for the glorious entry of Christ into the City of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

Similarly, our celebration of Easter begins with Great and Holy Friday. However, it should never end for us with a service we attend on Holy Friday. Just as the joy of Palm Sunday begins with the raising of Lazarus from the dead, so it is with Christ’s Resurrection. We begin on Great and Holy Friday with the sadness of what seems a great tragedy, but ends with the triumphant victory of Christ’s glorious Resurrection. There is no joy without suffering. And there is no resurrection without death.

The Divine Grace of God and His merciful forgiveness is showered upon us on Holy Wednesday with the Sacrament of Holy Unction for the healing of soul and body. And at the start of the twelve Gospel lessons of Holy Week on Thursday, the Lord demonstrates for us what being a servant means by washing the feet of His disciples. This occurs just before he offers Himself to us as the bread and wine, saying, “His Body … and this is my Blood…, for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28)

All who gathered between the little town of Bethany, the home of Lazarus, and began crowding the streets as Jesus made His way to the City of Jerusalem; all who brought boughs of palms and branches of olives were shouted while waving them, "Hosanna!" It is a word that means; "Save us, I pray, save now!" There was a desperation in the cry from their hearts on that day; perhaps as some today cry out in desperation. They were in great need for a deliverer. This exclamation is like the petition we often hear within our Liturgy over and over again: Help us! Save us! Have mercy on us! And keep us, O God, by Thy grace!

The shouts of "Hosanna" from the people in Jesus’ day continued with the phrase: "Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord, the King of Israel!" They were anticipating the coming of the Messiah (The "Anointed One"). They had a great expectation in finding Him. However, the full context of the prophesies of the Covenant (Old Testament) were not yet fully realized: This all took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet [Zechariah 9:9]: "Say to the daughter of Zion, 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'" And who would think of a King arriving on a donkey? Who ever thought that this King would’ve been born in a cave amidst animals?

"Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!" It is your and my exclamation today. It begins with "Hosanna" (a cry for help, to be saved - you and me today!), but it continues with the acknowledgment that He has come, that He is present, and that He is to come! We can be certain of His love. It is a steadfast and unconditional love - unlike any other. So for you and I who have been baptized and illumined, we shout for joy: "Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" (Matthew 21:1-9).

For many of us, our parents, grandparents, and even our godparents have paved the way with great sacrifices. We are who we are because of who they were. Their prayers for us continue! Your and my salvation are important to them. It is also important to God! Be sure that it is also important to you and your children. There is no better time to be connected than during Holy Week when we together revisit: the full and complete message of the Gospel. The week is only beginning... it's not too late!

God wants us to be connected. He desired being connected to us that He was born of human flesh! He desired to be so connected to us that He not only became one of us, He accepted becoming a mockery in order to save us. He accepted becoming a curse; was even spat upon. Why? Because no one else could turn the tables on evil. It is only He, Who Is The Author of life: He who is Truth; He who is also the Way. It was only He that could bring the peace we yearn to have; to bring the joy we long to feel; to heal the pain we cannot bear.

You and I must find our connection with God! You and I must also remain connected to Him! If the life of your family is important; if the survival of your relationships are valuable; if they are needing to be meaningful, then being in church is being in the right place, especially this week. And I don’t believe that you being here today is an accident. You are here because of someone who prayed for you, and who may still be praying for you!

May the journey we make together to the Cross that ends at the empty tomb bring us unspeakable joy in the full knowledge of all that God has done for us through Christ Jesus, our Lord and King! May His Light so shine on us by the end of this week, not only as a symbol, but with the full reality that He has granted us the forgiveness of sins and has reconciled us with Himself and with each other.