Reading #1 Matthew 21:1-11 Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem
Hymn: Hosanna… #123 VU
After the parade “If life’s a party – who cleans up? Look at all this! Palm branches all over the place. Someone even left their robe – it’s lookin’ a little worse for wear I tell you. Oh well, I guess I can understand some forgetfulness. People were so excited. They really think this Jesus guy is the cat’s meow! Really think he’s going to turn things around. But against Rome’s army? Is that really possible? I hear he caused a bit of a ruckus at the temple after the parade – started yelling at the money changers and throwing stuff around. I don’t see how that’s going to help him get the religious authorities on side… hmm – good luck Jesus.
Reading #2 Matthew 26:17-30 Story of the Passover/Last Supper
After supper: If life’s a party, who cleans up? This is the Passover meal – it’s a celebration of deliverance, of freedom. It’s a time to gather with family and recall the Exodus, the grand adventure. But I’ve never heard such little laughter at a Passover before. You’d think that after this morning’s delightful parade they’d be in a celebratory mood. The voices from the other room were somber, sometimes anxious, bordering on argumentative. If they hadn’t of sung the traditional Passover hymn, I wouldn’t have believed it to be the sacred meal I know it is.
Reading #3 Matthew 26: 31-55 Jesus prays in the garden of Gethsemane
Hymn: Stay with Me
Reading #4 Matthew 26:57-75 Peter denies Jesus three times
In the Courtyard: If life’s a party who cleans up? What a night this has been – a very unusual night of meetings. The whole Sanhedrin was here – the chief priest, the elders, the works! I’ve never seen them so “dedicated” to their job that they’d stay up all night – so fervent in their faith. A trial? More like a kangaroo court or the Mad Hatters Tea Party! What nonsense was said this night! One of Jesus disciples tried to get close enough to hear, without being obvious – hunkered around the fire in the court yard. Ah, but it’s hard to disguise a Galilean accent. That Peter guy slammed his cup down so hard, it broke. “I don’t know him”, he yelled. Then he was up and outta there before the rooster finished crowing.
Hymn:Bitter was the night, thought the cock would crow forever,bitter was the night, before the break of day.
Saw you passing by, told them all I didn’t know you, bitter was the night, before the break of day.
Told them all a lie, and I told it three times over, bitter was the night, before the break of day.
Reading #5 Matthew 27:3-38 Jesus is condemned to death
On the street to Golgotha If life’s a party… What kind of a party was this? Hell has partied today. Who cleans up this mess? How did we go from the parade of palms to this – streets littered with stones thrown at the poor man, already so weak from a beating, he kept falling down? What happens to people anyway? Are we such herd animals that all we need is a little nudge, a little scandal, or suggestion of a scandal and we tear people down? We human beings are capable of such beauty, such creativity, such courage and compassion, and yet, when we are frightened or disappointed, or feel powerless, we are capable of such violence and unspeakable horror.
Bertrand Russell, philosopher, mathematician, author, Nobel laureate (1872-1970) wrote: “Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.”
Did the people that day fear the Romans, and so destroyed the competing allegiance to God? Or did they fear Jesus, and his radical call to peace through justice rather than power? Are we so afraid of justice? Are we so afraid of unconditional love?
A time of silent reflection
Hymn: VU #142 Jesus, keep me near the cross