The Cold Springer - Week of April 14, 2019
Sunday, April 14th, 2019 - Palm Sunday, Holy Eucharist
Who's a Fool?
As [Jesus] was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!" From the Gospel of Luke
In the Roman Empire, even in the boondocks - out on the fringe - processions belonged to Rome; to generals who conquered armies and decimated cities. They would march their troops through the gates accompanied by fanfare and the roar of crowds. They were military parades punctuated by heads on stakes and prisoners who would soon be slaves or fodder for the coliseum. I suppose this display would have been majestic and noble: a projection of power. I suppose that compared to a triumphal entry such as this, Jesus’ would have seemed pretty silly.
Jesus came down to Jerusalem, having slept outside under an olive tree, climbed onto a young donkey and rode through the gates. He was celebrated as if he were a king, as a conqueror. Those who greeted him with joyful Hosannas expected a powerful hero. But they did not understand that Jesus’ power was not physical strength, but the power of love. Jesus had a habit turning people’s expectations on their heads.
I read a story recently: “I believe that a member of my church works for you and your company,” a priest said to a business executive.
“John Smith? Yes, he works with us. John is one of my vice presidents, but between you and I - and maybe you'll agree - I think he’s pretty much a fool. For every ten ideas he brings to me related to the company, I’d say one idea ever pans out and means anything. He really can be a fool,” the executive said.
“Well forgive me for asking,” the priest said, “But if John is such a fool, why would you make him a vice president in your company?”
“Why, because John is the only person we’ve got who who ever comes forward with any new ideas.”
Perhaps it takes a fool to be able to see the alternate possibilities. In the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul says, “The cross is foolishness.” What he means is that the cross, the way of Jesus Christ, is the supreme alternate possibility to the world’s wisdom. Does St. John's think of itself as a ship of fools.
When you look at our church, it’s buildings and location, it’s order, history and membership it doesn’t appear to add up to foolishness. When we gather on Sunday morning, everything looks so stable, so pure and solid, but this form can be an illusion; it can obscure how truly foolish our life together as people of Christ seems in the world.
Despite the cross, despite Paul’s clear, outrageous labelling of the way of the cross as a way of foolishness, we have this ironic tendency to present the church as the sensible option. Our capacity to take the foolishness of the gospel and repackage it as just another brand of worldly wisdom, common sense, something on which all people ought to be able to agree, is astounding.
Paul’s words remind us that we are called, as Christians, to more than a life of button-down respectability. This coming Sunday we find Jesus doing something, something final, decisive, world shaking, and life changing on our behalf. For us and for our salvation he is going to do something foolish. Bounding on the back of a donkey, hanging in scorned agony on a cross, he looks like a fool rather than the savior of the world.
Loving God, may we find the resolve to welcome him and follow him!
Peace and All Good!
The Rev. Jesse Lebus
Schedule and Info
This week is Palm Sunday. All students and children will join the choir in the back of the church, the Narthex, with palms in hand. The students will take part in the Liturgy of the Palms and then make there way to either the Children's Chapel or to thier seats to await a later dismissal.
The next week is, obviously, Easter. There will be no Sunday School that day. The following Sunday, April 28th, is Youth Sunday. All students will remain in church. There will be pleanty of opportunity to take part in the celebration of our young people. Stay posted to the Cold Springer Newsletter.
This week our students in the “Little Church” will continue to explore the life of Jesus and its narrative arch towards the Cross, and of course, to Easter Day! What is lovely about this series of Godly Play lessons is that lands squarely in a mystery that young people seem to understand more than we might: That Jesus died, but he is always with us.
Godly Play is centered around the most elementary aspect of our Christian Faith, the stories of Jesus’ life. Knowing the stories is more important than knowing what they mean. Sometimes forcing meaning into the heart of a youngster only serves to interrupt the work of the Holy Spirit. That is why the Godly Play method introduces the children to the story and invites them to explore its meaning in their world. Turns out they know a lot.
Wait, what is Little Saints? It’s a new class for children who are 6, 7 and 8 years old. This week these students will begin in Children’s Chapel as “Leader’s in Training” and just before the Godly Play lesson will move to a classroom in the nursery school. The need for this class is a wonderful sign that we have enough children to warrant a new section. This class will be shepherded by our our Curate and other volunteers.
During this season of Lent our Little Saints will work on learning words that are important to the season and what they mean for us as members of the church. This week we will explore the word humility.
Elements of Faith
School students will continue to delve into the 7 Last Words of Jesus. Using coloring posters our teachers will lead the students through a conversation about Jesus’ final sentence, the words he spoke to God the moment before he died: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"
Children are encouraged to take home and finish the posters if they don’t during the class time. Even better, if they return with them completed we can hang them in Bleecker Hall this Sunday.
Call for Volunteers
If you have a desire to help grow our wonderful youth formation program please reach out to a Sunday School teacher or a member of our clergy. There are requirements! The time to set aside some consecutive Sunday mornings (as few as three). A desire to see children grow in the faith. The willingness to grow your own faith through this experience. No theology degree neccesary.