Great message in here, for these times. Please join in prayer this morning. Light a candle, sing a song,
read the readings (there are links), and celebrate life today. Celebrate joy and celebrate God’s love for us. There will be highs and lows, but God gives us Love and he gives us Wisdom and he gives us each other.
Count Your Mixed Blessings
Once again, good morning everyone! I need to be honest and begin by sharing with you that over these past 37 years of writing sermons, I have always found Palm Sunday to be the most difficult one of the year to write. I say this because I have never really known
what to focus on – I mean, do I lift up all those who welcomed our Lord into Jerusalem with shouts of Hosanna and say that we should be like them?
I think about that question and say, “well, yes and no.” I mean, yes, we are all to welcome our Lord into our lives and affirm his presence with us. But then, my mind always moves ahead those few days when those same people rejected him and called for his crucifixion. And then, I must answer, “No. We are not to be like them.” For never are we to turn away from the Giver of life and blessings. And so, every year, I am faced with this dilemma. And I have wondered, what is this day’s most significant meaning for us?
But this year, perhaps due to this past week’s brief and rather surprising snowfall, I had recollection of something that happened many years ago, and this memory has brought me an insight that I want to share with you. And I want to do so because the more I
have thought about it, the more the events of Holy Week have come to make sense to me – so much so that it has taken on a very beneficial meaning for me. And I hope sharing this will do the same for you.
You see, back in 1977, on May 12th to be exact, while Val and I lived at the Swedenborg School of Religion, something happened that I will never forget. The day began as our days often did. We got up in the morning, had our breakfast, and Val went to work at the
First National Bank of Boston while I finished preparing for classes. It was a warm, spring day with temperatures in the low 70’s. The weather report indicated that the day would be uneventful weather-wise, and so, Val went to work wearing but a short sleeved blouse and thin jacket.
But throughout that morning, something very strange happened. The weather quickly changed and the temperature began to drop. And then it began to snow, and snow and snow – those large wet flakes that seem to only fall in springtime. And fall they did.
One, then three, then six inches of snow accumulated on the ground. And by the time it was finished, the Boston area had a record snowfall of some 14 inches. Cars were stranded in ditches. Power went out due to downed electric lines. And literally thousands of treebranches also crashed to the ground due tothe weight of that snow on the new leaves. And Val finally made it home – wet, cold and in a mood that I will not go into. If I remember correctly, the weatherman called it an “occluded front” meaning that a two or thee-mile-wide dome of cold air had formed and moved over the city and sat there as the snow fell. We didn’t care what it was called. We just knew that we wanted it to end. And we also knew that when it comes to the High’s and Low’s of weather, we much preferred the Highs.
Yes, back in 1977, Boston came close to setting a world record in terms of changing weather. It came close to ousting the little town of Spearfish, South Dakota, nestled in the foot of the Black Hills from the Guinness Book of World Records. Spearfish, you see, holds the record for the largest temperature drop ever recorded. On January 23, 1943, its weather station recorded a jump from -4F to 45F in just over two minutes. And then, an hour and a half later, the same weather station measured a decrease from 54F to -4F in only 27 minutes. Both Spearfish and Boston have something to teach us about life itself, for like the weather, our moods can seem to change just as quickly.
This relates to the events of Palm Sunday and Holy Week. After all, the city of Jerusalem is in our record books (the New Testament) for having the largest drop in mood ever recorded. Yes, between “Palm Sunday’ and ‘Good Friday’, just look at what those people experienced — first celebration and praise, then anger and tragedy. Each of these was so unexpected, but happen they did. And when we look at how such events apply to us today I think of it as kind of like a “proprium” tap. We turn it on full blast when we want
God to be our hired manager of the universe. And we turn it off when we want to take control.
But within these events lies an important truth for us to remember. The great news is that God doesn’t give up. And God understands our every mood and desire. And whether or not we are truly prepared to receive him anew into our lives, he still enters into the Jerusalem within our minds. And he comes, willing to give us the ultimate message of God’s love and forgiveness and acceptance of each of us. That’s the high of it.
And the low of it is that five days later the people called for him to be killed. And knowing that even this was to happen, he still entered into the Jerusalem within our minds and came, willing to give us the ultimate message of God’s love and forgiveness and acceptance of each of us. Yes, his love runs that low, and that high!
And so, there you have the high and love of it. Our Lord came. Our Lord understands. Our Lord forgives. And he comes, not to be our judge, but to be our Savior. Amen.