Christ our peace


John 20

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Cattedrale di Monreale, Сhrist Pantocrator

19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Judean authorities, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”

This is one of the sweetest verses in the scriptures. Into these shattered and confused lives Christ comes bringing peace. The doors are locked in a society that didn’t lock doors, that didn’t even close doors. What happened in secret was shameful. Closed doors created suspicion. But the disciples are in fear. Fear, because no one stamps out a movement only by stamping out one leader, they go after all in the inner circle. Fear, because the tomb is empty and desecrating a tomb by stealing the body is a capital crime. If they are accused of stealing the body… Fear, because they don’t know what’s going on. Fear, because there is this report that Jesus is risen and they know not what to make of it. They don’t know what God is doing. They don’t know what the high priests are doing. They don’t know what the Romans are doing. They are not plotting anything in secrecy behind closed doors; they are just afraid.

And then Christ is there. Not a ghost.   Not an apparition. A living presence. With wounds. Saying “Peace.” Bringing peace.

Jesus comes. It is the character of God to come, to draw near, to visit, to abide with us. The God who walked through the garden in the cool of the evening is a God who dwells among the people in a tabernacle and in a temple. The God who rescued slaves dwelt among them. The Living God is born among us, and called Immanuel, “God with us”. It is God’s nature to draw near to us. It is God’s nature to come to us.

And the risen Christ who comes brings peace. He stills our panicking hearts. He calms the stormy sea. He stills the waves. He silences the demonic. In Jesus’ presence, the Gerasene demoniac is restored to his right mind, clothed, sitting at Jesus feet. He speaks peace. He breathes peace.

The one who calls Mary by name calls us by name. Like a lover who calms the beloved with his or her name. Like a parent who infuses a child in the chaos of a tantrum with his or her calm embrace, helping the child to breathe. Restoring us to sanity.

Peace. Peace to our hearts. Peace to our homes. Peace to our world. “Be still and know that I am God.”

Whatever the Romans may do, whatever the Jerusalem authorities may do, whatever life has brought or may yet bring, Christ is risen. Christ is with us. Christ is our peace.

19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”

Seeing and believing

Watching for the morning of April 27

Year A

The Second Sunday of Easter

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Doubting Thomas Figure above the south door of St.Thomas’ church. Portland Stone carving showing St.Thomas kneeling to the risen Christ, by Philip Pape in 1956

Every year on the Sunday after Easter we hear of Thomas – Thomas who was absent that first Easter evening and did not see; Thomas, for whom the witness of the others is unable to bring him to faithful allegiance; Thomas who, in his unbelief, nevertheless remains a part of the community, giving him the opportunity to see; Thomas whom the risen Christ sees; Thomas who comes to see.

This is not the only text to speak to us on Sunday. We hear a portion of Peter’s Pentecost message. We sing the psalm that Peter cites to bear witness to the resurrection. And we hear the opening of 1 Peter speak of our new birth and living hope. But Thomas is the gravitational center of the morning, for here is found the blessing upon us and every generation since that first: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

Blessed, happy, honorable, at peace with God and the world, are those who have not seen (with their physical eyes) but yet truly see.

The Prayer for April 27, 2014

Gracious Lord Jesus,
in your mercy you did not leave Thomas in his unbelief,
but came to him, revealing your hands and your side,
and calling him into faithfulness.
So come to us wherever we are in our doubt and uncertainty
and by your word reveal yourself to us anew as our living Lord,
who with the Father and Holy Spirit you live and reign,
one God, now and forever

The Texts for April 27, 2014

First Reading: Acts 2:14a, 22-32
“This man… you crucified … But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.” – Peter bears witness to the crowds at Pentecost who have been drawn by the sound of a mighty rushing wind.

Psalmody: Psalm 16
“You do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit.” – a hymn of praise and trust in which the first witnesses of the resurrection found a prophetic word pointing to Jesus’ resurrection.

Second Reading: 1 Peter 1:3-9
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” –
a rich, beautiful homily on baptism offering a word of encouragement to the Christian community.

Gospel: John 20:19-31
“Then [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” – Jesus appears to his followers on Easter Evening and commissions them with the gift of the Holy Spirit, then appears again, the following Sunday, to summon Thomas into faith.

The stone is rolled away

Sunday Evening

Matthew 28

Carl.Easter 2014.small.IMG_2835-S2An angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone.

I don’t know what it was like for the people in the congregation, but rolling that huge “stone” down the aisle and out the front door with the assistance of all the children in worship on Easter Sunday morning was fun. It was a delightful way to begin our Easter service. The “stone” blocked entirely our view of the altar – the table around which we gather with the risen Christ in the meal that remembers his death, declares his living presence among us, and anticipates the healing of all creation.

Hopefully the children – and adults – will remember the image that whatever stands between us and God, whatever stands between us and fellowship with one another, whatever stands between us and the true, eternal life God intends for us, has been rolled away.

The original stone was certainly not that big – but it had the same effect. The one they loved was gone. The light in his eyes, the sound of his voice, the joy of his laughter, the tenderness of his touch, the intensity of his passion, the depth of his peace – none of that was accessible to them. Their vital connection to the living God perished with his last breath. The stone sealed it. All they had was fading memory – and his puzzling statement that he would rise.

There is much that seems to shut the door between ourselves and the living God. Indeed, for many, I suspect, that door has never seemed open. They visit the altar like I visit my daughter’s grave – I talk, but she does not answer. I come to be close to her – yet it reminds me how far away she is.

But the stone has been rolled away. The barriers of sin and guilt are gone, if we will let them go with the stone. If we will let ourselves stand there as before the empty tomb. If we will let ourselves hear the voice call our name. If we will bow down to worship and serve. If we will let ourselves see that at the altar we stand at the edge of the dawning world where every debt is lifted.

Wherever life takes us in the week, that door remains open. Eternally open. The stone is rolled away. The light of the new day shines. And the living Christ is present.



Matthew 28

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Relief of holy women in Notre-Dame de Paris

9Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.

The word ‘greetings’ could just as easily be translated ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’. I get a charge out of the idea of Jesus meeting these terrified, confused women, running from an encounter with angels and Roman soldiers, possessed of a message that the unthinkable has happened, with a “Yo!” or “Hey!” The Greek word is the customary greeting of the time.

But the word has a literal meaning: ‘rejoice’. We have forgotten that ‘goodbye’ comes from “God be with ye.” It no longer echoes with a sense of blessing. And perhaps this word here translated “greetings” is nothing more than that. But can it be that in the mouth of Jesus, in this first morning of the new world, it means no more than “Hello”?! Does it not require that we hear him say to us “Rejoice”? What other word will work on this day when the breach between heaven and earth is overcome, declaring once and for all that we were made for life and not death? What other word will work in this moment when every word and deed of Jesus, rejected by the world, has been vindicated by God? Can it mean anything less than “rejoice”?

Why should we who also live in the light of the resurrection settle for a mere “Hi” when we greet each other? It is tradition throughout the Easter season for the faithful to greet each other with the words “Christ is Risen.” “He is Risen indeed!” We rarely hear that now outside the formal context of the worship service, but it should be our greeting. Or, at the very least, “Rejoice!”

Imagine this message spreading like wildfire beginning that first Sunday morning as people went forth into their daily lives after the Sabbath. For fear of the authorities it was probably more of an excited whisper than a shout – but imagine the energy and excitement as the news spreads: “Christ is Risen!” And if the one greeted has already heard, then the response won’t be a mere “Yeah, I heard” for this is world shaking news. It can only be “He is risen!”

The word, the only word, is “Rejoice!” And we should live each day in the warmth of that joy.

Towards the broken


Isaiah 53 (A Good Friday text)

3He was despised and rejected by others.

Psalm 22 (The appointed psalm for Good Friday)

File:Russian - Crucifixion - Walters 37309.jpg24He did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted.

“He was despised.” We have a natural abhorrence of disease and disfigurement. Abhorrence may seem too strong a word, but I would defend it. We all know people who can’t stand the sight of blood. We have a natural aversion to distortions of the human appearance. We pull away from those whose suffering seems unremitting. A crying child will invoke our sympathy, but a child who cannot be consoled will eventually make us want to turn away. We cannot bear it.

There is something strangely compelling about human tragedy that turns us into voyeurs watching on television, glancing at an accident as we drive by, or watching from a distance. But only from a distance. Too close, too real, or unremitting suffering overwhelms us.

Maybe it’s the feeling of helplessness. Maybe it’s the fear. I visited a widow in the hospital many years ago, her head held immovable by a steel ring and screws into her skull. She had fallen on the basement stairs and broken her neck. She lived now on a ventilator and a feeding tube. There was no future for her. There was no recovery. This was no fever that would pass, no wound whose pain could be lifted by a parent’s kiss. I came and sat with her. There was nothing to do but bear her burden with her for a moment. But I was haunted by the experience. There are some things you’d rather not see. She died when her ventilator failed and no one heard the alarm. Such a death haunts me, too. Unable to summon help. Unable to cry out. Unable to move. Dying alone. Haunting.

So we have this natural response to turn away from the afflicted. But Jesus does not turn away.

24He did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted;

It’s not only the afflicted from whom we turn away. We turn away from the grieving, too; we want them to “get over it” and be “normal” again. We turn away from the addict, from the beggar, from those who differ too far from us. We stigmatize all kinds of people – which is an interesting word considering that the word “stigmata” refers to those who bear in their hands and feet the wounds of Christ.

3He was despised and rejected by others.

Maybe it was because he walked with the lowly that “he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted.” Or maybe it was simply because God is not like we are. God turns toward the suffering, not away. God turns toward the broken not away. God turns toward the crucified not away. God turns towards us with a compassion that does not grow weary, and a mercy that has no end.

Jesus Liberation Front


blog.elements.Palm Sunday1 Corinthians 11 (A Maundy Thursday text)

23For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

“I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you.” It is so easy to think of the Holy Communion as a religious ritual. However meaningful we may or may not find it, however deeply spiritual, however healing or renewing, our eyes tend to see ‘church’ rather than Jesus. This is something people do. This is something religious organizations do inside a religious building presided over by religious professionals dressed in religious robes.

No. “I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you.”

Two thousand years of tradition may stand in between Jesus and ourselves. These robes were once the ancient equivalent of blue jeans. Perhaps upscale blue jeans – but still, common everyday dress. The colored stole around the pastor’s neck is affected by the ornamental styles of the ancient and modern world – but it may have started with the towel the deacon put around his neck after washing feet. It is understandable that everyday items used for sacred purposes become objects of special care and beauty. When I have guests for dinner, I use my best wine glasses, not the cheap everyday ones. I use my nicest serving dish. I get out cloth napkins instead of handing out paper towels. So this banquet of Holy Communion now involves items of beauty and distinction. But we all know that we can use hamburger buns and a cafeteria water glass of two-buck chuck if we need to and Christ will still be present. Because this isn’t a religious ritual; “I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you.”

Of course Paul received it from Jesus and handed it on to Timothy who handed it on to Polycarp who handed it on to generation after generation – but it all goes back to Jesus and that last night with his followers.

It connects us through time with Jesus.  It connects us now with Jesus.

There was a time when gathering to break this bread was like gathering in the Soviet empire to read Solzhenitsyn. It was a radical and revolutionary act. In whispers we say the words that speak of the end of every Rome and the dawning of God’s reign. In whispers we are members of the Jesus Liberation Front, knowing that the supreme act of violence could not stop this Jesus. That we are members of his household. That he is present among us. That he breathes upon us his spirit, his love, his courage, his strength, his grace. That he will one day be manifest to all and all heaven and earth will be governed in harmony with his spirit, in union with his perfect grace and love.

Rich and poor, noble and serf, slave and free, Judean and Gentile, “Parthians, Medes and Elamites,” Arab and Israeli and American and Hindi, black and white, this amazing gathering of all people recognizing themselves sisters and brothers in one household of God, declaring by their very existence – and by this act of breaking bread together – that Christ has died, is risen and will come again.

Words of power. Words of hope. Words of transformation. Words of rebellion and resistance to the world as it is. Words of love. Words that connect us with the source and goal of life. “I received from the Lord what I am here handing over to you.”

The new year


Exodus 12 (A Maundy Thursday text)

File:PikiWiki Israel 14865 Jewish holidays.jpg2This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you.

God commanded Israel to make the month of Passover the first month of the year. At the full moon came the sacrifice of the lambs and the meal when the ancient story was told: they had been slaves in Egypt and God had set them free. I don’t know when Canaanite culture around them – or Egyptian culture, for that matter – had celebrated the new year other than that it was associated with the natural world and the cycle of the seasons (Baal was the God of the storm and the new year came with the return of the rains). But God has placed his people out of step with the society around them.

The New Year is for us, too, the time of new beginnings, the time of starting over, the time of leaving the past behind and embracing a future that we all hope will be better. There is no small measure of irony in the fact that our culture seems to celebrate such a day of new beginnings with behaviors that are rarely ennobling. I suspect that getting drunk and hoping to get lucky are indicative of our fear of time rather than our trust in the future, our fear of our mortality and the fleetingness of our days.

For Israel, their feet still wet from the waters of the Red Sea, God declares that Passover will be the beginning of their year. It is an act of Lordship: God is giving his people a new calendar than the one given by their slave masters. This day of new beginnings is not linked to the return of the sun or the fertility of the fields but to God’s act in time when he led them through the sea out from bondage. This day leads all the rest. This day defines all the days to come.

We have not made Easter the beginning of the ecclesiastical year, but these are still the days that define all the rest. Every Sunday is a festival of the resurrection; every morning the dawning of the new creation. We live now in the realm of light and life. We live now in the realm of grace and truth. We are defined by an empty grave. We are freed from shame and the fear of death. . “The grass withers and the flower fades but the word of our God stands forever.” “(Isaiah 40:7-8) “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4)

We still get up and go to work. We still worry about the future and our children. We “marry and are given in marriage.” We still struggle with our inner thoughts and desires, our aches and angsts. But we are sons and daughters of the Most High, emissaries of heaven, agents of blessing, the heart and hands of Christ. We are inheritors of the kingdom – and participants even now. We are children of the resurrection.

All our days are defined by these days, all our hours by these hours – by the new commandment, by the redeeming sacrifice, by the empty tomb, by the commission to go and tell.

From death into life

Watching for Easter Morning

Year A

Maundy Thursday / Good Friday / The Vigil of Easter / Easter Sunday

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The risen Jesus appears to his disciples, Strasbourg, Cathédrale Notre-Dame

We watch, this week, for that early morning on the first day of the week when the women go to the tomb. But before that sunrise, comes the drama of the Paschal Triduum, our three day observance of the cross and resurrection. So we look towards Easter, but before us is also the sight of water splashed upon feet, the sight of bread broken, the sight of an altar stripped bare. Before us also is that barren sanctuary, the prophet’s voice about a suffering servant, the words of the passion from John, and the prayers of the people that the work of Christ may bear its fruit in all the world. Before us is the large wooden cross that echoes with the sound of nails and the last words of Jesus and the sight of creeping darkness. And then the image of a new fire and a new candle and a great procession through the darkness into the light of Easter.

The week is full of profound images, actions and texts that combine for our Passover, a deliverance from Egypt and an entering of the promised land, a deliverance from death and an entry into life, the crossing of a boundary between old and new, a new birth into Christ. As written in 1 Peter: “Once you were no people but now you are God’s people.”

The waters of baptism are our Red Sea. Behind us lies the broken world of slaveries great and small. Before us lies the new creation and the true freedom of the children of God. And each year, in the paschal Triduum, we walk that journey so that Easter morning is not just eggs and bunnies and the possibilities of new beginnings, it is the first morning of the new creation and all existence shimmers with the radiance of light and life. It is not Jesus who emerges from the realm of the dead on Easter morning; we do.

The prayers and texts for this week

Maundy Thursday:

Gracious God,
by the witness of your Son Jesus
who bent to wash the feet of his disciples,
you point us yet again toward the path of life:
Grant that we may live as your servants
bound not by the bonds of slavery
but by the bonds of an incomprehensible love.

First Reading: Exodus 12:1-14 (The Passover)
Psalmody: Psalm 116:12-19 (I will lift up the cup of salvation)
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (In the night in which he was betrayed…)
Gospel: John 13:1-17, 31b-35 (A give you a new commandment)

Good Friday

Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal,
Source of all goodness and life, our Eternal Father:
all earth falls silent before the crucifixion of your Son.
We can say nothing; you alone may speak –
and you choose to speak forgiveness and love.
Make us ever mindful of your mercy,
and shape our lives by your Spirit
that we may walk in your love.

First Reading: Isaiah 52:13-53:12 (He was bounded for our transgressions)
Passion Reading: John 18:1-19:42 (The passion according to John)

Good Friday Evening Prayer – Tenebrae

Eternal Father,
in the shadows of the night we hear the echo of your voice.
Beyond the hammer and the nails,
beyond the jeering and the cries,
beyond the anger and the hardness of heart,
we hear the voice “Father, forgive them.”
Help us hear the prayer, trust its promise, and know its healing.

First Reading: Isaiah 53:4-6 (He was wounded for our transgressions)
Second Reading: 1 Peter 2:21b-25 (He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross)
Seven Last Words:
Luke 23:33-34: (Father forgive them)
Luke 23:39-43: (Today you will be with me in paradise)
John 19:23-27: (Woman behold your son)
Matthew 27:45-46: (My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?)
John 19:28-29: (I Thirst)
John 19:30: (It is finished)
Luke 23:46: (Father, into you hands I commend my Spirit)

Holy Saturday / Easter Vigil

Almighty God, creator and redeemer of the world,
before whom the grave lies shattered and gates of hell torn down,
help us to hear and trust the message that Christ is risen,
and to live our lives in you for the sake of the world.

First Reading: Genesis 1.1-2.2 (The Story of Creation)
Second Reading: Selections from Genesis 6-9 (The Flood) [whole text, Genesis 6:5-9:15]
Third Reading: Genesis 22.1-14 (The Binding of Isaac)
Fourth Reading: Exodus 14.5-14:30 (The Exodus)
Fifth Reading: Ezekiel 37.1-14 (The Valley of Dry Bones)
Sixth Reading: Selections from Exodus 11 and 12 (The Passover)
Seventh Reading: Daniel 3.1-29 (The Fiery Furnace)
Epistle: Romans 6:3-5 (We have been buried with him in baptism)
Gospel: Matthew 28:1-10 (The angel opens the tomb)

Easter Sunday Morning

Almighty God, creator and redeemer of all,
who through the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus
broke down the gates of hell to set all its prisoners free,
delivering us from the dominion of death
and bringing us into the reign of your Spirit and life:
set us free from all that binds us,
that we may serve you with joy
and live your grace towards all.

First Reading: Acts 10:34-43 (Peter’s message to Cornelius about Jesus)
Psalmody: Psalm 118:1, 14-15, 17, 22-24 (The stone that the builders rejected)
Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-4 (If raised with Christ, seek the things above)
Gospel: Matthew 28:1-10 (The angel rolls back the stone)

A participation in Christ

The Evening of Palm Sunday / The Sunday of the Passion

1 Corinthians 10

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Palm Sunday tradition in Poland creating palm trees from crepe paper and dried flowers

16The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?rsv

I choked on the wine, today. At that crucial moment at the end of the service, when the sip of wine from the chalice is drained (evoking Jesus draining his cup of suffering) and turned on its side with the words: “Jesus said, ‘I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep,’” I choked. The wine hit my vocal chords, and though I suppressed the cough, I couldn’t clear my throat, so the words came out forced and feeble.

It was a powerful service. After the joyful opening, processing with palms from the picnic area where we’d gathered around coffee and hot cross buns to the doors of the church where the crucifer banged on the doors of the church with the words of the psalm “Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and testify to the Lord!” After the singing of “All Glory, Laud and Honor” as we entered the sanctuary. After the choristers sang their joyful anthem accompanied by flute and piano. And after the children’s message about the meaning of all this, we turned to the passion story from Matthew. We listened to that great narrative, weaving into it the elements of Sunday worship – an offering when we heard of the woman’s offering when she anointed Jesus with precious oil, the communion when we heard Jesus speak of the communion, the prayers when Jesus prayed in the garden. Hopefully in the weaving together of these elements we will remember that what we do Sunday after Sunday is a participation in this story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. This is what Jesus told us: “Do this to remember me.”

As we moved towards the end of the service, the words of the passion story took over and our words fell away, yet interspersed with wonderful music from the quartet that gave further voice to the story and allowed us time to digest all we heard. All this moving towards that final moment when I would proclaim: “The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” and we would hear the quartet echoing down from the loft “What Wondrous Love Is This?” before leaving in silence.

But I choked. I feared it would break the mood. But worship is not about mood. Worship is about participating in this story. We are those with whom Jesus walks. We are those who acclaim him our true king. We are those who share in his table. We are in the crowd as Jesus’ fate is decided. We are witnesses of his sacrifice. We are the women watching at the tomb – and we are there at first light when the tomb is opened and found empty.

This is worship. The word and the meal, the hymns and the prayers, the offering of ourselves – it is a participation in Christ, a participation in his dying and rising, a participation in his Spirit and Life, a participation in his mission and ministry.

In the power of this narrative of wondrous love, the breath of God is breathed upon us. And maybe the fact that I choked is okay. It is a story that should render us speechless for a time.

The city quakes


Matthew 21

File:Christ entering Jerusalem icon.jpg

Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. 14th Century icon from St. Catherine’s Monastery of Mount Sinai.

10When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

The city was shaken. The word translated here as turmoil is used again by Matthew when Jesus dies, the temple curtain is rent and the earth shakes. He also uses it when the angel descends to open the tomb, the earth quakes, and the guards shake with fear. It shows up in Hebrews with reference to the shaking of heaven and earth (quoting Haggai 2:6), and in Revelation describing the falling stars as when the fruit drops when the tree is shaken by a gale. We hear the word also in Isaiah for the shaking of the foundations of the earth on the day of wrath and in Psalm 68 for the quaking of Sinai when God descended upon it. This translation ‘turmoil’ doesn’t seem quite the right word. The city quakes. This is not just the buzz of rumor and curiosity; this is fear that a new king has come.

The city is shaken. The pilgrim crowds coming in from the countryside are exultant. The demonstration with the donkey and the cries of the crowds reflect ancient rituals of the king riding up to Jerusalem. Jerusalem, the city of kings and priests, the city of wealth and power, is shaken just as it quaked in fear when the magi came and asked for the newborn king. Now the child they tried to murder is grown and arrives to claim his inheritance as the Son of David and Son of God.

The city is shaken. This city that slays the prophets. This city that resists God’s reign. This city that thrives on wealth and power, not justice and mercy. This is a city in partnership with Rome, not the city of God set on a hill, the righteous communion.

The city is shaken. “Who is this?” they ask with trepidation. “The prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee,” the pilgrims joyfully answer. God is coming to reclaim his city. God is coming to deliver the nation. God is coming to set right the world!

But the city doesn’t want change.

Jesus is trouble. He is always trouble. Trouble for the green zone but mercy for those outside the walls. Trouble for pharaohs but redemption for slaves. Trouble for ‘the seeing’ but light for the blind. Trouble for the victors but hope for the vanquished. Trouble for the “righteous” and grace for sinners. Trouble for the temple system but power for the community of believers.

The city is shaken. They have reason to shake. The world is being reborn.

“This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee”!

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”