Putting on Christ Series:  Courage to do the Will of God 

Two processions; two leaders.

One steeped in the accoutrements of power;  the other, a homeless itinerant preacher/teacher.

One riding a magnificent warhorse

The other riding a borrowed donkey

One accompanied by symbols of the power of the State…troops and flags and weapons

The other accompanied by the multitudes waving palms symbolizing freedom and shouting “ Hosanna/Save Us”

One answers to the temporal ruling powers.

The other answers to the Eternal Ruler’s power

On this day, they enter by different gates but are destined to meet face to face.

When they meet, one will take the coward’s way out…washing his hands of responsibility

The other will stand courageous in the face of lies, deceits, and betrayal.

One urged on by the Sanhedrin and the crowds will declare the sentence of death

The other abandoned by even his closest followers will receive a sentence of death.

One will return to his palace.

The other will carry his cross to Calvary, where he will declare, “father, forgive them for they know not what they do”

From the beginning of creation the powers of this world and the powers of eternity have faced one another, they have done so as injustice has faced justice; as violence has faced nonviolence; as intolerance has faced tolerance; as deceit has faced the truth; as hatred has faced love.

The names and circumstances have changed across the years.  The disciples;  Stephen,  Paul, Justin, Martin Luther; the martyrs of Japan, Harriet Tubman, Chief Seattle, Bishop Oscar Romero, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Nelson Mandela,   the women of Liberia and this past four of Mother Teresa’s Sister of Charity, murdered by ISIS in Yemen.

Temporal power believing it will have the last word; eternal power that cannot be overcome.

Courage to speak the truth to power.

Courage to do the will of God.

Courage to walk where others are afraid.

Brazilian Lyricist and Author Paulo  Coehlo said it,  “An act of courage is always an act of love”

Author Ambrose Redmoon said it, “Courage is not the absence of fear but the judgment that something  else is more important than fear”

Winston Churchill said it, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is what it takes to sit down and listen”

Nelson Mandela said it, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear. But the triumph over it”

This past week as 5,000 people tried to enter Lenoir Rhyne Lutheran College which seats 1500 people, to hear one of the presidential candidates who has spoken words of hate; encouraged violence; stirred up fear, and spoken against welcoming the stranger, a couple of hundred Lutheran pastors and lay people stood in front of the chapel with signs that read, “do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with God”,  “Love not hate”, “build bridges, not walls”,   “do not neglect to show hospitality to the stranger”,  “love your neighbor as yourself.”

And as two other ethnic groups began taunting one another, eye witnesses tell how these Lutheran Christians stepped between them singing hymns of praise to God, averting a violent confrontation, and witnessing how the power of love is greater than hate.

The power of love doesn’t make the evening news, but its power is effective in changing lives and changing circumstances.

What the powers and principalities didn’t understand on that Palm Sunday and still don’t understand today is that the power of eternity is greater than any power or principality on earth.

Where is the Roman Empire today?

Where is the temple today?

Not even death could hold down the power of eternity…God

On that day as Jesus entered into the seat of political and religious power, the crowds thought it was a celebration, but Jesus knew it was an act of courage and will….not my will, but thy will be done…on earth as it is in heaven.

As we begin this Holy Week, let us put on the courage of Jesus the Christ…the courage to do the will of God in this time and this place by overcoming hate with love; greed with kindness; injustice with justice and violence with peace.  Let us welcome the stranger and bless those who hate us; let us pray for our enemies and let us walk humbly with God.   AMEN

Palm Sunday