“What Peace Are We To Keep?”
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 & Luke 19:28-40
Rev. Tina Walker-Morin
Pilgrim Congregational Church, UCC
March 20, 2016
I imagine you all have heard the rule of etiquette in business, at the dinner table, hair salon or elsewhere is “never talk about religion or politics”. This rule came from the Hill's Manual of Social and Business Forms, a guide to writing and etiquette from 1879, it states: "Do not discuss politics or religion in general company. You probably would not convert your opponent, and he will not convert you. To discuss those topics is to arouse feeling without any good result."
The saying was further popularized by one of my favorite comic strips, the Peanuts in 1961. In the strip the first frame has Linus standing next to Lucy. Lucy is yelling “You’re crazy! You’re just plain stupid crazy!” The next frame, Linus and Lucy again, Lucy continues screaming “You talk like someone who’s just fallen out of a tree! You’re stark raving stupid!!” Next frame Linus alone saying “I should have known better…” Then Linus walking away saying “There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people…Religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin!” http://www.gocomics.com/peanuts/1961/10/25/
I love the Peanuts comic strips and Charles Schulz. Well, I guess that is it, we should never discuss religion, politics or the Great Pumpkin in social circles, at business, around the dinner table or while getting our hair done. But guess what, we are not at any of those places we are here at church where yes we can talk religion, and we better! And today I am going to talk politics. But do not fear, this is not a stump speech in favor of one presidential candidate over another, rather we are going to talk about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, a very political encounter.
We meet Jesus today on this Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week as he is making his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. This is during the time of Passover, one of the three holidays which include a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem; the Jewish holiday which commemorates their liberation by God from slavery in Egypt and their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses.
In the narrative of the Exodus, the Bible tells that God helped the Children of Israel escape from their slavery in Egypt by inflicting ten plagues upon the ancient Egyptians before the Pharaoh would release his Israelite slaves; the tenth and worst of the plagues was the death of the Egyptian first-born.
The Israelites were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a slaughtered spring lamb and, upon seeing this, the spirit of the Lord knew to pass over the first-born in these homes, hence the English name of the holiday (Exodus 12:11-13).
Each of the gospels mark this momentous event, but in our gospel today, the Gospel of Luke, the account is a little less crowded and a little more subdued than that of Matthew, Mark, and John where a large crowd of people prepared the way. In Luke it is a disciple event. Yet we do not know how many disciples, was it only the 12 or was it many more people who followed Jesus? Either way, “Christ is praised and hailed as king by his followers, says Luke, and not be the general public.”
Jesus’ followers are excited and have expectations of this King riding into Jerusalem. It is a political statement and one that is objected by the Pharisees. We know this to be a political parade because of the pomp and circumstance. The Palm leaves, mentioned in John 12:13, are associated with nationalistic demonstrations and parades. Jesus has been preaching about a new “kingdom,” a very politically-charged word and his disciples are proclaiming “blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:38). This exclamation is taken from Psalm 118:26 which is a greeting used to exalt kings.
All of this is being done to fulfill the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9-10:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
and the war-horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
and he shall command peace to the nations;
his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
So why are they spreading their cloaks on the road -- after all, isn’t a dirt road which would be dirty? It is to repeat what was done when a new king was proclaimed in 2 Kings 9:13, “Then hurriedly they all took their cloaks and spread them for him on the bare steps; and they blew the trumpet, and proclaimed, “Jehu is king”.
These followers of Jesus perhaps are blinded by their expectations, that Jesus is King and will rule in a political way, that they cannot see what is to come or how God is working.
We too are in a political landscape that currently is not meeting our expectations. Whether you are liberal, conservative, or moderate the political landscape is not where it was expected to be.
Jesus, this king comes riding in on a colt, a young donkey instead of a mighty military horse…not what was expected and he is humble preaching a message of truth and peace…not what was expected, he would be taken political captive and crucified, killed…not what was expected.
Just as we have a multi-billionaire running for president outside of our political norm…not what is expected, political rallies turning violent…not what is expected, young people turning out to vote who have never voted before…not what is expected, a country talking more about this election than maybe ever…not what is expected.
Palm Sunday demonstrated how our expectations may blind us to what God is doing right before our eyes. Some may feel this political season is the worse it has ever been, but is it? Or are we blinded by our expectations? This political season has invoked passion in people, brought tough issues to the surface like immigration, racism, fascism, and wealth.
What if God is calling us to join Jesus on the colt? To use this time to speak our truth in love and peace? Politics have always existed and just as Jesus was making a political statement, we too are called to ride the colt and speak our truth through love. Jesus states that if the disciples were to keep quiet then surely the stones would cry out.
What would the stones cry out today? What do you want to cry out today? Our faith drives our values which drive our actions and political beliefs. The beauty of living in America is that we have a voice, we are Jesus’ disciples and can cry out.
Every day we have the opportunity to speak up, whether it is when someone at work is being treated unfairly, or being bullied, or in our response when we see a homeless person, or in the way we interact with people in the grocery. We can be the voice of peace, we can be the rocks that continue shouting.
This week Jesus is on the journey to the cross, it is our job to walk with him and continue the story by speaking our truth.
One truth I hold on to is that we are all loved children of God. I strive to “see” and validate people who are not seen by society. I remember this past summer when I was walking in Boston, we passed a young man who had a cardboard sign saying, “veteran and homeless”. My heart ached for him as he just stared off down the street. I wanted to stop and say simply, “I am sorry.” I was sorry that as a vet he was left out on the street. I was sorry for any PTSD or other injuries he might have suffered, I was sorry that I did not stop and look him in the eyes and say, “I am sorry”.
I missed an opportunity to be the rocks shouting out. I missed an opportunity to speak God’s truth.
The truth is I am not sure why I did not stop, maybe I was in a hurry or maybe I was scared. Scared to speak my truth and hear this man’s truth.
Jesus is making a political statement, a public statement, and is calling us to do the same. To speak our truth. Mike Robbins, a best-selling author of Be Yourself, says to speak the truth you must:
1) stop managing other people’s feelings, stop worrying about what others might think
2) to be real, not right. Be honest with yourself and with others and
This political season do not join Linus; instead, talk politics, religion, and even the Great Pumpkin, yet be aware and do not be blinded by your expectations. Speak your truth, speak your truth with love and compassion, be the stones shouting out. In this one moment, we can make a way for Jesus, we can throw our cloaks on the ground and sing our songs of praise, and trust the unknown future to the God who works good in every circumstance and in every holy week of our lives. Hosanna, Hosanna, Praise God and his Messiah, we are saved.
 Luke Commentary, 16