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Message for Palm Sunday

This is the version of the sermon that was preached at the late service when we had a baptism and confirmation.

The message can be heard by clicking this link.

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Jesus is king.

That’s what today is all about.  Palm Sunday is the evidence that Jesus is king.  The people proclaim Jesus king with shouts of Hosanna.  “Hosanna” means, Lord, save us.  They also call Jesus the King of Israel.  He’s riding on a donkey like a true servant king of Israel.  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.  Hosanna.  There’s no doubt Jesus is king.

But if Jesus is king what does that make you?

If Jesus is king, what does that make you, Alyssa, Samantha, and Blase, as you mark this milestone on the journey of your understanding of the faith?  If Jesus is king, what does that make you, little Michaelangelo, as the Lord begins in you, baptismal life in the death and resurrection of Jesus?

If Jesus is king, what does that make you dear listener?  Whether you are young or old, whether you remember your baptism or your confirmation or not?  I would suggest that if Jesus is king, that makes us his subjects, and in so many very ways we are not loyal subjects to the crown.

The past several years, we have observed the Sunday of the Passion with the long reading of the account of our Lord’s trials and crucifixion on this day.  The people who put together the new Lutheran Service Book, actually recommend this because so few people attend Holy Week services.  When I got confirmed, I was confirmed on Palm Sunday and I remember that my first communion after I was confirmed was on Maundy Thursday.  That has remained special to me all these years.  What will be special about today for you?  What will stay in your memory?

Today is not just a very important day in the lives of our confirmations or even in the life of little Michelangelo, it’s an important day in the life of the Christian Church and for the life of our congregation. Today, as the people of God in this place, we are participating in what God is doing among us in the Divine Service today. Yes, it started unconventionally, outside, with foliage, but we are hearing again, witnessing the mighty acts of our God to save us.  Jesus entered Jerusalem for us, to be our king, to re-establish God’s active reign again in this world, the kingdom of His grace and mercy, the kingdom of the forgiveness of sins.  It is not like any earthly kingdom.  Jesus is unlike any earthly king.

In earthly kingdoms, you’re supposed to ask not what your king can do for you, but what you can do for your king.  Alyssa, Samantha, Blase, Michelangelo, it’s the other way around in Jesus’ kingdom.  Ask what Jesus has done for you.  That’s what you learned over the past 3 years in catechesis.  You learned what it all means.  You learned to hear it, over and over.  Rejoice in it.  Tell others.  We all just saw what God did for Michelangelo.  We about to you hear you three confess that baptismal faith as your own.  And we all participate and witness what God is doing today and everyday in our lives.  In our rejoicing is the beginning of our responding to such a word and growing in faith and faithfulness.

There are two ways you can look at things like attending church services and your confirmation instruction and all the services this week.  You can see them as requirements or you can see them as places of pure joy.  A boy once asked his father, “How much longer are you going to make me go to church?”  He wisely said, until you stop asking that question.  You can treat the them as obligation or you can treat them as opportunities to hear once again your sins are forgiven and be in the presence of your king who serves you.

We are actually very fortunate people.  Many of our Christian brothers and sisters will hear messages today that tell them the services this week are days of obligation. Many will hear the message of Maundy Thursday as “do this” rather than “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”  Many will hear on Good Friday their sins put Jesus on the cross as though it was a guilt trip instead of the love of the Father to send His Son to make it all right again.  Many will even arrive in churches next week and hear how terrible they are because they’re “Easter only Christians” and will wonder why they ever came.  They will hear this Law and search inside themselves and realize they don’t have it in them to fulfill the Law of God and they will despair and stop listening to the Word altogether.  I wonder how long it will be before they ever return.  That’s why we still need to tell others.  They don’t know Jesus did what He did for them.  They need to know.

So, listen again to what God has done for you, what your king does for you, how He will suffer and die as your servant king and be raised to life everlasting, and tell others this great news.  Jesus is king.

Ask not what you can do for your king, rejoice in and tell others what He has already done.  Hosanna!  Jesus is our good king.  Everything flows from that.  Amen.

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