Thursday, March 21, 2013
Scratching the Surface of Palm Sunday
Except for the funny clothes confusing Christianity with Halloween, I kinda like the new Pope; and hope his namesake is really the guy from Assisi rather than Xavier.
Check it out.
I like the fact that he ain't gonna fudge on Jesus or the sanctity of all human life from womb to tomb or Biblical ethics or, uh, you know, Christianity.
He doesn't seem inclined to cave in to the mainliners' sin of accommodating cultural bastardizations of the faith.
I like his, uh, lifestyle more in tune with Matthew 23 than most of his peers - Catholic, Protestant, Mainline, Sideline, Emerging, Texas Toothyish, Bejeweled...
It's nice to have a clergyperson who doesn't wanna live like the rich and famous because, uh, Jesus didn't; and last time I checked, He's the Founder and supposed to be the Focus and Filter for His followers.
Jesus said a lot about rich people having a hard time "getting in" in the end because they can rarely serve unless leading, have a hellborn sense of entitlement, and exhibit just about insatiable control needs. I think He would have a hard time with our foundations, endowments, and other ways to store up treasures for ourselves at the expense of giving it all away to help the poor, hungry, homeless, and other Matthew 25 kinda stuff.
This new Pope seems to get that/Him; unlike the guy who once heard a sermon about the rich young ruler (read Matthew 19:16-30) and scoffed to his pastor, "Jesus could not have meant that!"
Francis I is so unlike so many of today's clergy who have all of the answers without knowing Him that well.
He knows he doesn't know more about God than God when it comes to the kinda stuff mentioned in the third sentence of this section as revealed by God in Jesus and Holy Scripture.
He gets the motto of the Reformation that the heirs have ignored, defied, or forgotten: ecclesia reformata semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei.
That's/he's refreshing in a soteriological kinda way.
Anyway, it's been interesting to listen to folks wondering what he's gonna be up to until he dies or retires like his predecessor or gets raptured or...
Jesus said, "We'll know him by his fruits..."
Previous harvests are encouraging.
It reminds me of the first Palm Sunday.
People had all kinds of expectations for Jesus.
A first century Gallup Poll may have looked something like this thanks to Robert McAfee Brown (The Bible Speaks to You, 1955):
FIRST MAN (very matter of factly): Me? I'm looking for
a descendant of David, to come and rule the way King
David did. Those were the days! We had land, food,
prestige, and a great king. Someday God will send
another David who will rule over us. Then we'll have
peace and justice, and the enemy will be destroyed.
I only hope he comes soon.
SECOND MAN (with a snarl): I don't know just how
we'll recognize the Messiah, but I can tell you this.
He'll be a great warrior. He'll push those blasted
Romans back into the sea, and we'll have our own
land once again, without a bunch of foreigners
ruling us, taking all our money in taxes and
keeping us poor. I'll join up with his army first
thing, and we'll hatch a revolution that will smash
the Romans to bits.
THIRD MAN (rather wild-eyed): No, it won't be as
easy as that. We're in too deep for any mere
man to deliver us. Our only hope lies in a
heavenly creature, sent down from the clouds
of heaven, with legions of angels. The sort of
thing the Book of Daniel talks about. He'll
smite the oppressive Romans and deliver us
from them, and then set up his heavenly
kingdom right here in Palestine. That's the
only thing that can save us.
Then there's that powerful exchange between Simon Zealotes and Jesus in Webber and Rice's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar of 1969 (click on the video below to hear it) which does a pretty good job capturing the passion and problem of people's expectations juxtaposed to Messianic realities.
Do you remember when Jesus asked His disciples, "Who do you say I am?"
The disciples replied, "Some say you are..."
Jesus interrupted and said, in effect, "I don't care what other people are saying about Me...Who do you say I am?"
The right answer, of course, was/remains, "You are the Christ! The Messiah! The Son/Substance of God! Lord and Savior!"
It's the same Q&A for Palm Sunday 2013...or any Sunday...or any day.
It doesn't matter who Pope Francis I is or who you are or who I am as long as we're His.
It doesn't matter who other people think He is.
Who do we think He is?
Getting back to the guy in funny clothes who will surely shed 'em if he really identifies with the guy from Assisi who identified with the Guy from...heaven, so far so good!
And if we're still into Him - the real not reimagined Jesus of Holy Scripture - so far so good!
With Francis I, we will be known by our fruits; or as He said, "Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is a member of My family."
When the parade is really about Someone, it means something more than...what we've gotten for too long from counterfeits posing as Christianity.
Let me put it another way.
Some folks are very religious about the wrong stuff like attire and architecture and furniture and...their PS parades don't amount to a heaven thing with that 1st Palm Sunday parade being exhibit #1.
Some folks are increasingly related to Jesus and their parades really...honor Him while pointing people in the His direction.
Check it/Him out.
Blessings and Love!