(A message I gave on April 1st – though having read it again this morning the live version was slightly different, so for those of you who heard it, this edition may not contain some asides, deviations, ad-libs, rabbit trails etc )
Opening slide with Genealogies title
Our response to Jesus.
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Shannon. I am on staff here at Gateway and i look after the finances, internship programme and have just begun to look at our connect group area as well.
As you can see we are going to cover the most riveting of topics this morning.
Actually we aren’t – most of you will know that today is April Fools day so i thought i’d just give you all a little scare.
What I would like to explore with you this morning is the importance of days. We are in the midst of some important days in our calendar right now. Significant days.
Slide with real title – Palm Sunday
Today is Palm Sunday. It is not something that is acknowledged in non-liturgical traditional churches that much but it is a significant day.
Let’s take a look at Matthew 21 where we find a description of what transpired on this day.
Powerpoint of below scripture
1-3When they neared Jerusalem, having arrived at Bethphage on Mount Olives, Jesus sent two disciples with these instructions: “Go over to the village across from you. You’ll find a donkey tethered there, her colt with her. Untie her and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you’re doing, say, ‘The Master needs them!’ He will send them with you.”
4-5This is the full story of what was sketched earlier by the prophet:
Tell Zion’s daughter,
“Look, your king’s on his way,
poised and ready, mounted
On a donkey, on a colt,
foal of a pack animal.”
6-9The disciples went and did exactly what Jesus told them to do. They led the donkey and colt out, laid some of their clothes on them, and Jesus mounted. Nearly all the people in the crowd threw their garments down on the road, giving him a royal welcome. Others cut branches from the trees and threw them down as a welcome mat. Crowds went ahead and crowds followed, all of them calling out, “Hosanna to David’s son!” “Blessed is he who comes in God’s name!” “Hosanna in highest heaven!”
10As he made his entrance into Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken. Unnerved, people were asking, “What’s going on here? Who is this?”
11The parade crowd answered, “This is the prophet Jesus, the one from Nazareth in Galilee.”
This act by Jesus was truly significant. For those who took part in the parade they knew exactly what was transpiring before them. This was Jesus again confirming that he was the promised Messiah, the king. For those in the crowd they realised that something important was happening but they did not know exactly what.
The authorities response was one of wanting to silence the parade
The challenge for each of the groups was the question “what next?”
Powerpoint slide- what next?
And the question remains the same for us today – what next?
There are a number of responses to a significant event.
The first is ‘so what?’
Powerpoint slide so what
The so what response can come from different angles.
The first angle is one of a lack of understanding. For some who looked on Palm Sunday they did not understand what was transpiring. All they saw was a strange man riding on a scruffy donkey.
They did not read the signs. Late last year Don did a series on semiotics , reading the signs.
Powerpoint slide below scripture
1 Chronicles 12:32 From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders of the tribe with their relatives. All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take.
Ignorance is something we should not be accused of. As followers of Christ we are called to be aware of the times and signs that surround us. Not in a spooky, look for the end times Armageddon style of things but in a way that we are open to seeing significant moments in our lives.
Don and Karen are in LA right now taking a conference on ‘end times’. One of the reasons they asked Don to speak on that subject was because of the hysteria and mixed messages about the world ending this year on December 21st because of what can allegedly be derived from looking at the Mayan calendar. Whilst the contents of Revelation are indeed hard to understand and i certainly don’t claim to know what on earth it is all about, we are called to meditate on the word and try and discern with the help of the holy spirit what is means for us today – yep the question ‘what next?’
When we fail to understand something it is easy to have the same response as some of the crowd, so what?
There are many ‘so what’ responses in the Bible to significant moments. Judas is one who though he was party to Jesus’ most intimate moments, responded with so what. Think about the things he saw and experienced being a close member of the pack. He saw Jesus heal hundreds of people, he saw Jesus turn water into wine yet when it came to his life his response was so what. His desire to serve himself overrode the significance of the time.
He consciously chose to shut them out of his sphere and mind. Was ignorance at play in Judas’ case? Maybe it was but i find it hard to believe that after spending so much time with Jesus that he just didn’t get it.
I guess this is what i am talking about when i said ‘so what’ can come from different angles. So what can be an ‘indifference’ choosing to ignore the implications of a situation, or it can be one of genuine lack of understanding.
I don’t think Jesus has a problem with us genuinely not understanding.
Powerpoint slide below scriptures
James 1.5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
Give me understanding, that I may keep Your law; yes, I will observe it with my whole heart. Psalm 119:34
Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart. Psalm 51:6
With the aged [you say] is wisdom, and with length of days comes understanding. But [only] with [God] are [perfect] wisdom and might; He [alone] has [true] counsel and understanding. Job 12: 12-13
So i think that’s fairly clear – if you don’t know then ask.
Another response we can have to Jesus is what would you have me do?
The rich young ruler is the man who uttered this phrase as he came to Jesus asking what he must do to enter the kingdom of heaven. This was a significant moment for him but what was his real response to this event? That’s right his inner response was ‘that’s too hard’. The cost was too much. The actions required of him were more than he could comprehend. So the advice of Jesus fell to the ground heard but not acted upon.
I wonder how many people on Palm Sunday saw the parade, asked someone what it meant and asked the question what should i do? I wonder how many when they were told that they were to leave what they were doing and follow Jesus responded in their hearts, it’s too hard or it’s too much.
When it comes down to it cost is always a big factor in deciding just what out next course of action will be.
Let’s look at someone who had to risk paying a cost.
Esther, the cost of speaking to the King could very well have been her life. She had a choice to make, knowing the cost . her initial response was the same as the rich young ruler, it’s too much, it’s too hard. But over time, she began to weigh the cost and the cost of not acting became too much as well. If Esther had not acted then and there it would have most likely meant the extinction of her own race.
It got me thinking what if people in our history had said it’s too much or it’s too hard rather than choosing to pay the cost.
What if those men and women who went to war for us had said that? What if martin luther king jr had said that, what if joan of arc or nelson Mandela had said it’s all too hard or what if jesus of Nazareth had said it’s too much.
It doesn’t bear thinking about does it. I don’t want to sound like these are easy decisions because i don’t believe they are but i do think it is up to us to make the most of our significant moments.
The othe party in the mix on Palm Sunday were the rulers and authorities of the day.
And some of the Pharisees from the multitude said unto him, Teacher, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said, I tell you that, if these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out.
What was their response?
Powerpoint slide be quiet
The Pharisees did understand what was happening. They just didn’t want to accept it. If anyone should have known what was going on then it was them. They were well versed in the scriptures. So their response to Jesus was to try and minimise the effect he was having.
Before we get stuck into them it might pay us to examine our hearts when it comes to the noise that God can stir up. Sometimes when God is moving or let’s say entering into a situation we are involved in, it can be noisy, it can be messy , it can be like a parade and disrupt everything around it, drawing others attention. I think it is almost a human reaction for us to want to tone it down a little, not too much exuberance, not too much noise.
Our response can be not now God, or perhaps not in that way Jesus.
I have spent a bit of time talking about how not to respond so it’s only fair that we quickly look at how best to respond when God encounters us.
Ephesians 5 15-17 tells us to
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
So how do we make the most of every opportunity.
I think the first thing we can do is to remember our encounters – mark them in some way. It’s easy to have a ‘conference’ moment of ecstasy and then carry on like nothing has happened. You all know what i’m talking about don’t you. It’s the time when you go to a conference, get all fired up, have an experience with God, resolve to change or do something and then Monday comes and the conference mos’ well not have ever happened.
I want to show you three short video clips. Three events that if you were alive you will remember.
3 videos – moon/9/11/diana
Who remembers where they were on these days cue video. Moon landing (30 secs), 9/11 (45seconds) diana death
(42 seconds)(5 minutes total?)
When major events happen in our world strangely a large number of us can recall exactly where we were and or what we were doing. But how many of us can recall so many details about our encounters with God?
We read time and time again in the old testament about how Moses built altars every time something happened, as did Saul and Joshua.
Obviously we are probably not going to go out the back of our property , gather some stones and construct an elaborate altar – although i am sure it could be fun.
So i am going to suggest something that i am a total failure at!
Journalling… yep – you’ve heard it before. Keep a journal. I think i have heard it at least a couple of dozen times and do you think i can do it.
Actually if i were to pile up all the journals i have started and never continued with i could make a pretty decent altar.
Only once have i kept what could be considered a successful journal but then i read back over it and found it so depressing that i have never really captured the motivation to do it again.
But for me this is a classic example of do as i say and not as i do.
Obviously writing something down is a good thing to do – whether it be in the traditional form of a journal or some other creative form like this polystyrene cone. We made these cones last year for interns. I was actually looking for polystyrene bricks but hey we made do with cones. On this cone are words and phrases that represent significant days/ encounters in my life. Maybe that might work for you –
Once we have recorded /remembered then we must ask the question i posed a the very start of the message.
Powerpoint slide what next God?
What next God?
This is the hardest question because it requires us to listen not only with our ears but with our hearts also. The answer may be something we don’t wish to hear.
It might be like the answer that follows not long after Palm Sunday. An answer that outlined that jesus would die and be raised three days later. Jesus used the metaphor of the temple to explain it to his disciples but they did not catch on at all. It wasn’t until after the fact that it dawned on them that jesus was talking about himself. Maybe they didn’t want to know, maybe it was just too cryptic for them – who knows.
Whatever the answer may be our challenge is to do something with it – don’t just write it down and leave it for the silverfish to move in.
For some people palm Sunday happened and nothing changed for them – don’t let that happen for you.
Powerpoint slide KONY 2012.
A lot of you will know what kony 2012 is about – you may have seen the video or heard about it.
Now i know that there are some questions and controversies surrounding the organisation and its founders but the issue does remain that there is injustice and we are responsible.
This video has had 86 million views as of Thursday last week. It has been shared on Facebook , written about on blogs, talked about on the news.
If Kony 2012 is a palm Sunday event for you then let it change you, don’t just share it on facebook, don’t just like it or watch it on youtube. Let the message change your heart, your behaviour, your attitude to injustice.
Today on this palm Sunday when we are encountered by God let our response be What next Lord?
Powerpoint slide what next god?