Monday, April 18, 2011

The Journey's End

I couldn't concentrate on writing a sermon for Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday) without emptying my head of a few thoughts from Palm Sunday, even if they are a day late.  If the season of Lent is a journey and the Christian life is a pilgrimage then Palm Sunday is Jesus' answer to the cry of the saints on earth: "How long, O, Lord?!"  Indeed, a journey of death and life and life and death.  An avid reader of Tolkien or Lewis cannot help but see how they were inspired by reality of Christ's journey to the cross when writing epic adventures of the Lord of the Rings or Narnia.  That is one of the main themes after all, a journey of death and life, redemption and pilgrimage.  And at long last it seems that Holy Week could not have come soon enough.  How we have looked on the horizon for its advent, for Jesus' advent.  And so, Palm Sunday (and Holy Week for that matter) is Jesus's answer to our constant pining: "Are we there yet?"  There's nothing wrong with the journey language.  It fits Lent and the Christian life well, so long as we understand who is going where and how we arrive at the destination.  Lent - and the Christian life and the Church Year - is not so much about us traveling along side Jesus as it is Jesus, the Lord and Bridegroom of the Church, leading His bride through His own life, death and resurrection bestowing on her the very presence and gifts of His life, death and resurrection, step by bitter and weary step.  He bleeds.  He suffers.  He dies. He rises.  He fills the cup.  He drinks the cup.  He pours out the cup.  You eat.  You drink.  Are we there yet?  And our patient Lord replies: "Yes, we are here; the hour has come.  From before the foundation of the world I have set my face toward Jerusalem, for you. We are here, the dawn is not far off; not long now and the hour is complete.  Fear not, for I have brought you here with me."  Palm Sunday points us to the cross, to the blood, to His body and blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins, to the silence, to the darkness and the tomb, to the end of the world and the beginning of a new journey, a new day, a new creation.  On Palm Sunday we lay our cloaks of sin before our lowly Savior who enters Jerusalem to robe us in glorious robes made white and washed in the blood of the Lamb.  On Palm Sunday we wave the Palms before the Christ who goes to Jerusalem bearing our cross, your cross, my cross.  There is no cross heavier to bear than Jesus', no journey more arduous and painful and yet more glorious as His pilgrimage of Passion.  On Palm Sunday we cry out Hosanna, Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord as Jesus, Lord-Save-Us in the flesh goes to do exactly what He has promised: to heal, to save, to Hosanna you.  Hosanna.  The very words uttered on the journey to the cross are the same words sung and chanted on our way to the Sacrament.  Hosanna, Lord save us by Your body and blood - it was true in Jerusalem and it's true everywhere His table is spread.  On Palm Sunday, we go to feast on this Lamb as we sing our traveling song:

Ride in ride on in majesty!
Harl! All the tribes Hosanna cry.
O Savior meek, pursue Thy road,
With palms and scattered garments strowed.

Ride on ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die.
O Christ, Thy triumphs now begin
O'er captive death and conquered sin.

Ride on ride on in majesty!
The angel armies of the sky
Look down with sad and wond'ring eyes
To see the approaching sacrifice.

Ride on ride on in majesty!
Thy last and fiercest strife is nigh.
The Father on His sapphire throne
Awaits His own annointed Son.

Ride on ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die.
Bow Thy meek head to mortal pain,
And take, O God, Thy pow'r and reign.

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