Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the
human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to
take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross,
giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant
that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share
in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives
and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever
and ever. Amen.”
– Collect for Palm Sunday. Book of Common Prayer, 1979
Yesterday was Palm Sunday. The sermon I preached (located in the media section) addressed some of the generational gaps in our society and how Christians from different generations interpret Holy Week or Passiontide. In the end, the purpose of Holy is for us, as Christians, to not only celebrate Easter, but to also remember the happiness that was Palm Sunday, the sadness that was Maundy Thursday, and the sorrowful despair that was Good Friday. All too often we skip Holy Week and jump straight to Easter. We sometimes regulate Easter to mean the bunny and eggs. It is to the point where some Christians do not refer to Christ’s rising again as Easter, but rather “Resurrection Sunday.” I find this to be sad.
It is sad because we, as Christians, have allowed someone else to determine who we are. I had a conversation with a Jewish colleague of mine. He is preparing for the Passover Seder this evening. He was lamenting on the attitudes of some of his Jewish congregants. He relayed the following story to me:
I (my buddy) asked him (his colleague) when he travels, because he flies everywhere, does he go into the cockpit and speak to the captain of the plane? He says no. I then say, ‘Oh, you mean you don’t go into the cockpit, look around the area, inspect everything, question the pilot to make sure he know what he is doing?’ He starts looking at me confused. I then say ‘So you assume he know what he’s doing, right? Because he is the pilot? You trust him enough not to ask any questions, but you don’t trust the minister, the priest or the rabbi about matters of God? Matter of fact, you don’t trust God about matters of life? You sit there and say ‘Oh, I need proof, I need to see it for myself’ when it comes to God and matters of God, but you don’t need proof from the captain, who is flying this plane, with your life in him hands?’ This is the problem with all our religions, its man made chaos because man does not want to serve God, they want God to serve them, and what they want. They see God as their servant. They ignore the fact that they have an obligation to serve God.
After my buddy finished, I began to think about associates I know who do the same thing. They take God and mold Him to their own instruments. I recently heard a story of a guy (new or rededicated Christian, no denomination specified) telling his friend, that God didn’t call said friend to their current occupation because it wasn’t confirmed by “a pastor”, despite the fact that the friend spoke to me, a priest. The guy did not know the difference or rather similarities between a pastor and a priest. I suspect that the guy just wanted to use his false sense of righteousness to spiritually beat up and bully his friend by telling him that he is less than. This is sickening. This is what is harming the Christian Church.
On the flip-side, we have those Christians who are afraid to stand up and defend the faith because they are afraid of hurting someone’s (usually one who can care less of the faith) feelings. They will downplay the fact that the sins that Christ died for, are the same sins that we commit day in and day out. They will not address the fact that we are no better than St. Peter, who denied Christ three times. All of this will be negated because of the fear of being called judgmental by someone who has their own agenda against the church.
During Holy Week, I urge you to fight the temptation to use God as your personal instrument of destruction. I know it may seemed a little far fetched but it is the reality of the situation. During Holy Week, many people who do not attend church throughout the year show up to services, much to the chagrin to the faithful that attend weekly. This can cause a sense of anger and even resentment from the faithful. I urge you to show love to them, especially since they rarely attend church for whatever reason. Show them the same love, that God the Father showed to us this time, over 2000 years ago.
I also urge you to hold steadfast to the faith. Do not condone the ungodly behavior of friends and loved ones, or allow the watering down of scripture just to not appear judgmental. In the end, you are doing them a disservice by allowing them to live a life that is contrary to what God wants.