What To Do When The Music Stops and The Party Comes To An End? (Palm Sunday)

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John 12; 12- 19

The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the king of Israel!”

Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:

“Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;

see, your king is coming,

seated on a donkey’s colt.”

At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.

Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”

 

Message

Last Sunday (6th April 2014) was the finals of T20 World Cup Match between India and Sri Lanka. After the Holy Communion Service at Itanagar, we were travelling back to Guwahati by the evening bus. So I could not watch the match. But to the utter irritation of my wife, every other second I was checking the score on my mobile. But after sometime the internet was not functioning too well. It got back after an hour and I checked the score and to my utter shock the total was just 130. I just could not understand what really happened. So I logged on to FB and saw the abuse after abuse on Yuvraj Singh. Things like “I hope to never see you on field again, best of luck with the cancer foundation.’ ‘A moment of silence for Royal Challengers Bangalore who spent 14 Crore in an auction to buy Yuvi’. When finally India lost the match and the World Cup, there was a ready scapegoat in Yuvi.  And the next day we saw the news that his home was pelted with stones. But then when sanity came to the fore this update on Facebook did a lot of circulation.

 

Under 15 World Cup 1996: India Won, Yuvraj – Man of The Series.

Under 19 World Cup 2000: India Won, Yuvraj – Man of The Series.

2007 T20 World Cup: India Won, Yuvraj 70 in 30 in SF.2011 World Cup: India Won, Yuvraj – Man of The Series.

People abusing Yuvraj Singh :

► Don’t forget, he was the man due to whom India won the World Cup.

► He was the one of the person who fulfilled Sachin’s 22 years old dream.

► He was the one who gave us glorious Six 6’s moment.

► He is the one who has given lot and lot of other victories.

Its cricket, Its game. Some day you score, some day you floor

 

It also took Sachin Tendulakar to stand by Yuvi and say ‘It is ok to criticize Yuvi, but do not crucify him’

It is really shocking to see the apple of the eyes of the last World Cup, the fighter of cancer, overnight by one of his performances becomes the villain this World Cup. It just reminds us that someday we are in control, life is on song and the next day it may all come crashing down. Such is the vanity of life.

 

Today we are meditating on Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. It is the zenith of Jesus’ ministry where he enters with it riding on a Donkey and the city erupts with frenzy where the people come out to welcome him with palm leaves and their cloaks on the road. They are all shouting ‘Hosanna, Hosanna’ which means ‘save us now’. His popularity was soaring the skies. He had unprecedented acceptance. In our lingo, he sure was the ‘Rockstar.’ Now what was the reason for this huge acceptance? Israel was under Roman subjugation. People were awaiting a Messiah, a King in the line of David to liberate them from the much hated Romans. And Jesus was anticipated as the King who would do so. “Blessed is the king of Israel!” (vs 13) shows the expectation of the crowd. Jesus who would fit into such expectations was being cheered that day. But in our journey towards ‘Good Friday’ along with Jesus, we see how things changes. Jesus does not play to the tune and expectation of the people. He disappoints them. He frustrates them. Those who yelled ‘Hosanna’ were there again to shout ‘Crucify him, Crucify him’. Those who shouted ‘Save us now’ mocked back ‘You save yourself.’ ‘Leadership is the rate of disappointing people at a rate they can stand’ says Ron Heifitz from Harvard. Going by that definition Jesus surely disappointed his followers at the rate that exceeded the threshold of disappointment. The very people who welcomed him with cheer handed him over to be crucified. The party was over. Music stopped.

 

Palm Sunday is at the beginning of ‘Passion Week’. The Journey from ‘Hosanna’ to ‘Good Friday’ is actually a reminder of the story of our lives. Jesus was in control of everything till the entry of Jerusalem. He was healing the sick, telling parables, he was accepted, he had disciples by his side, crowd flocked him. This we call the action of Jesus. But journey towards the cross is a Jesus who is not in control. He is passive. He is silent. People who supported him have deserted him. He is lonely and alone. This is called the passion of Christ. Our life may not have such a dramatic graph but we know the contrast when in life everything you touch is gold, when job is a joy, when family is the best thing that ever happened and nothing could actually go wrong. You are in total control. God seems to favor you immensely. But things do go wrong. There may be a loss of job, unexpected sickness, death of a dear one, misunderstandings and fights in family life. Life no more is in control. You feel frustrated and ask ‘Where is God in all this?’. I was deeply encouraged by my daily meditation reading from Daily Devotional ‘Fresh from the Word’, where Nicola Slee says ‘Should we conclude that God is present when everything is favorable and in our control and that He is absent when everything in our life seems to go wrong? Surely not. The life and passion of our Lord and Saviour shows that how God is present in both activity and passivity, in doing and being done to. Faith is the wisdom in knowing how to respond to both realities and to surrender ourselves to God’ So my dear friends we need to know that when we lose control, God is always in control.

 

My cousin Susan Abraham, her elder sister Mary George and I share a very special bond. Mary is happily married and along with her husband Arun and daughter Anaiya are settled in Dubai.  After her studies in London in the field of Physiotherapy, Susan came back to Mumbai and worked for a year. She is very focused a person and knows what she wants. She decided to quit her work and was about to embark upon her Ph.D programme. She really is very passionate about what she does. But to the horror of her family, Susan’s mother was detected with cancer. The family was not ready for this. It was a rude shock. Susan, along with her father, plunged in taking care of her mother. When I spoke to her she said ‘I was really upset with how things went but I had this talk with God. I fought with Him and now I am at peace.  He gives me strength’. The experience of chemotherapy can be very traumatizing. With 6 six cycles of Chemo, I have stood back in admiration of how Susan stood rock solid in face of such adversities. I am sure it is her faith that helped her to face this eventuality with hope and her approach gives strength to the others in the family. I recently spoke to her mother and my aunt. She said “I praise God for all that he has done for me. I thank God for all His mercies. Everyone’s prayers strengthens me every day. I am very happy. I sometimes feel very lucky to have been loved and cared so much. God has been very merciful”. At the end of the conversation I sat down in admiration of this woman who in the midst of pain gives us a lesson of faith. Susan and her mom taught me ‘Faith is not fitting God into our molds of expectations, but faith is the leap into the hands of God, surrendering to His will, fully knowing that he will catch us’.

 

Prayer:

O God, early in the morning I cry to you. Help me to pray and to concentrate my thoughts on you: I cannot do this alone. In me there is darkness, but with you there is light; I am lonely, but you do not leave me; I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help; I am restless, but with you there is peace. In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience; I do not understand your ways, but you know the way for me… Restore me to liberty, and enable me to live now, that I may answer before you and before me. Lord, whatever this day may bring, Your name be praised.

 

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote this prayer in the German Concentration Camp of Flossenberg. He was a pastor of the Lutheran Church and challenged the Nazis through his sermons and helped many German Jews to escape to Switzerland. Like other clergy of his time he could have chosen a comfortable position by not challenging the Nazis. He did and he paid the price. He was executed on 9th April 1945 and the Lutheran Church commemorates it as the ‘Feast of Blessed Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

 

Rev Merin Mathew

Mar Thoma Syrian Church

Guwahati

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