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Faithlife

20080316_sermon

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ad news for Rose Festival fans who want to secure a prime spot for watching the parade this year. As the news has said, "No more tape, no more spray paint, no more chalk. If your rear end isn't on the ground, your seat isn't saved." What's more for Randy Leonard got his ban in place with a unanimous vote. The stick in this is a "fine of $100 for the first offense, $500 for each subsequent violation.[1]

Take heart Portland, the other Rose Parade in Pasadena has similar rules and there is at least a million people who see it live. There you have to have one person for each five chairs and you can only line up noon the day before which pretty well shoots your New Year's Eve. It is not unusual to see cars slowly, VERY slowly, driving down Colorado Blvd. just before noon, stuffed with chairs ready to stake their claim to a spot.

So with new limitations let me offer some suggestions on parades that we need to keep in mind. First put the kids where they can see. If that means Dad carries the kid on their shoulder for the whole time, so be it. That's part of what it means to be a Dad. If you have front row seats or room on the street and there are children standing behind you, you invite them to come up and join you so they can better see the floats and bands.

Particularly true in Portland, after MLK's been closed, you are encouraged to play in the street. Remote controlled cars, inflatable toys from the vendors or tossing a ball around is encouraged. Just be careful and considerate of others.

What we have on Palm Sunday is the story of a biblical parade. Jesus, along with hundreds, if not thousands, of others is headed into Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. The crowds have been walking up the rugged roads signing a series of Psalms. We have them in our Bible as Psalms 120-134. When the temple comes into view there is joyous singing and rejoicing for the trip is almost over.

Most likely this is the place where people start to notice Jesus among them. Those who had been in Bethany and knew of Lazarus' resurrection would have been among the crowd. The news spread and soon there are those who are singing not only to God but also to Jesus. Outer cloaks are spread before the donkey and palms are ripped off and laid down to prepare the way of "He who comes in the name of the Lord."

We can get caught up in the excitement of a lot of different parades around life. Some aren't quite as innocent as the Rose Festival parade. For instance in the 1930's and 40's a guy by the name of Hitler capitalized on his nation's suspicion of Jews and led a parade which took our world through World War 2. Pornography magnates like Larry Flint realized sex sells and so he's led and encouraged others to lead parades in celebration of the baser side of what God created as good. Even parades, like family values; world peace and environmental stewardship seem to be led by those who sense which way the wind blows and jump out in the lead.

Obama, Clinton, McCain Leonard, Sterns, Murdock, Fox, CNN, CBN, American Idol, Britney, and the rest; lead parades that sells advertising, brings in donations, sells news papers or wins votes. The most radical of them are not radical at all.

Jesus' parade is different. Jesus doesn't offer us a message that we want to hear. He doesn't give us easy words. He doesn't offer us simple answers. No! His parade heads 180 degrees the opposite direction from the world.

Jesus takes us in a new direction. He transforms, the cynic would say spins, the typical entrance into Jerusalem for Passover into a statement of His coming. In Jesus' entrance we are able to see God's work, His love and power paraded before us in the most unusual way. It's as if we're sat on God's shoulder so we can see the spectacle of God becoming flesh. It's as if we've been invited to the front row so our experience of God's love might become up close and personal. And once there we are able to perceive HE is the one who has come in the name of the Lord because he is Emmanuel, God with us.

The place in the front row isn't marked off by duct tape either.  When confronted with John the Baptist's claim of a coming Messiah some Jewish leaders wanted to draw their duct taped reservations around the claim that, "We have Abraham for our Father". In answer, John the Baptist told them and us, "God can raise up children of Abraham from these stones." Here in Matthew 21 when similar groups of leaders are indignant about the shouting and healing taking place in the temple Jesus simply quotes the Psalm that says, "From the lips of infants and children you have ordained praise." Ps. 8:2 In another confrontation he tells them if the people were silenced the stones would cry out.

Jesus doesn't only offer us a great view for this life-changing parade of God but he encourages us to play in the street even while it passes by. I'm not just talking about placing palms and jackets in the path of a donkey. I'm talking about encouraging an attitude of growth, exploration and new experiences.

Jesus doesn't expect the disciples to have all the answers or understand all the consequences of following Him. He doesn’t expect us to have those answers either. Following, by definition is a journey not a destination. Are any of you spiritually where you were when you were ten years old? If so, I'm sorry, unless you're only 11. If you're 80 and your faith has moved beyond where it was when you were 30 you need to take a new look at your followership. If you're 30 and you merely have the faith your parents had with no ownership of your own. It's time to start maturing and making your own decisions about whom Jesus is and His claims on your life.

Today, Palm Sunday 2008 is a great day for a parade so let's accept Jesus' invitation to see the direction Jesus is headed. And let us bravely accept Jesus' invitation to step out into the roadway and follow.


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[1] http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/120537691382710.xml&coll=7

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