Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

"A Time To Speak"

Psalm 118:1-4, 19-29,  Philippians 2:5-11, Luke 19:28-40

March 28, 2010

by James Greene

 

There comes a time in our lives and our faith when we have to speak.  It is like a force of nature that comes from within, that calls us to say speak out and take a stand.  It may be a voice of admonishment where we see a wrong being done and we speak out against it.  It may be a voice of cheering encouragement like we see at a track meet, or a football game. 

It doesn’t have to be a loud voice.  I remember a Colonel in the Marine Corps, who when he spoke, it was with authority and conviction.  He never raised his voice. But, everyone listened because of his command presence.    

We see, in today’s lessons, the theme of speaking out in praise of the Lord.  We also gain some insight to the context of the readings when we look into the cultural history of the events being described.

 

I  Worship and Praise

           It is fitting and proper - (though it might seem odd to us) - that we use palm branches in our worship here this morning.  It is with an understanding, that it is done in honor and praise to the Lord and to Jesus, who comes to us in Peace, as our savior and redeemer.

 

           In Psalm 118 we have a glimpse into the history and a processional worship of Israel.   Now the palms were historically used for several things in that time.  They were a sign of Victory during the Greek and Roman Era and were used in the processions.  They were also used in praise and worship.  They were used during the Feast of Tabernacles with the celebration of the bringing in of the final harvest of the agricultural year.  The palm branches were “shaken” during the reading of this psalm

V-26 “O Lord, save us;” as part of the praise and worship.  We also see in V-27 the description of “With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the alter.”  It is a procession of praise to the Lord as they went up to Jerusalem.

           The palm branch was a symbol of redemption on the coins of Zion.  They were a symbol of God’s victory and the deliverance of His people.  They were, described in prophesy, the entrance of the Messiah into Jerusalem.

           We also see in The Book of Revelation a description of Christians who have overcome persecutions of the world waving palm branches in Chapter7:9 “ wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.”   They arecrying out in a loud voice” praises to God for their salvation.       

 

II  Singing our Faith

           In the reading from Philippians, we see again the praise of the Risen Christ

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in V-11 where “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” to the glory of God.  Because Christ is exalted by the Father, in “taking on the attitude of Christ”, we must speak out confessing in praise and worship that He is Lord of all.

 

III  The Text 

           On this Palm Sunday we see in the reading from Luke, the focus on God’s Love for all mankind and all creation.   It is the fulfilling of His Promise to send the Messiah to redeem not only Israel, but also all of mankind through the incarnation of His Son the Christ.

           Here is Jesus and the Apostles and followers in a royal procession.  He is riding on a colt, the traditional mode for a King, as he enters the city.  This is a procession in Peace.  It is a procession of waving palm branches described in the worship of Israel in Psalm 118.  It is a planned entrance into Jerusalem.  It is a praise to God for all the mighty works they had seen in Jesus’ healings and miracles.  They believe, that Christ is the King that comes “in the name of the Lord”; that he is bringing in the Kingdom of God into the here and now.

          

           Jesus is knowingly going into harms way.  He is knowingly, deliberately defying the political powers, and he has a price on his head.  He is moving towards the cross and execution when he enters Jerusalem.  (Just as Thomas was aware that going to Jerusalem was to go and to die.) 

This is done in Peace and Love under control.  The modern equivalent would be the procession that we see at the opening of the Olympic Games.  When all of the countries enter with their banners and national dress, parade in peace.  It is a celebration.

When he is told to rebuke his followers, that they need to be quiet, he responds in truth.  “If they keep quiet, even the stones will cry out.”  It is a reflection of the response of creation.    It is like the blooming of bluebonnets that we see on the side of the road.  Everyday we see nature, rejoicing around us.  You only have to look, to see, the creation in praise of the creator everyday.

It is like trying to break a law of physics.  Jesus is fulfilling prophesy, and nothing can stop the process.  It is like a cannon ball that is dropped from a cliff.

 

 

IV  It is a time to speak.

           Even the creation joins in the celebration of the coming of,  the Hope of all ages.  The Christ who is redeeming the creation.  We cannot be silent.

 

           The celebration of this Palm Sunday is a time to speak.  It is a time for praise. It is a time to worship.  It is a time to wave our palm branches in celebration of the coming of the king.  There is a joy within us that cannot be contained.  It reminds me of the song in the late ‘60s by The Isley Brothers called “Shout”

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           You know you make me want to Shout!… Throw my hands up… and Shout!!

           Throw my arms out and Shout!… Lift my hands up and Shout!!

 

           This is a glimpse of the emotion and intensity of the praise that we see with the apostles and the followers of Jesus as he is entering Jerusalem.  Though it might have had a different beat it is the thought and the intensity of emotion and joy, knowing that Jesus is bringing in the Kingdom of God into the here and now.  It is not only a time to speak out it is a time to shout out to the Lord, but also in praise of the Lord of all.

 

           It is a time to speak and praise….

 

In the Name of The Father, and The Son, and The Holy Spirit.  A-men

 

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