Thursday, March 21, 2013

Palm/Passion Sunday; 24 March 2013

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” the disciples cry out at Jesus rides into Jerusalem – just exactly what the angels sang at Jesus’ birth, way back in chapter 2 of Luke’s gospel. Concentrating on God’s radically offensive message of peace through weakness and reconciliation seems particularly appropriate for American Christians as we celebrate Palm/Passion Sunday so closely on the heels of the 10th anniversary of our unwarranted invasion of Iraq. In March of 2003, Americans supported the invasion by a 2 to 1 margin. Today, in retrospect, those numbers are nearly reversed.

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said, “I’m already against the next war” and it set me thinking. Perhaps this Palm/Passion Sunday, we ought to focus on Peace. With the 10th anniversary of the Iraq invasion still in our remorse-tinted rear-view mirror, and with the drums beginning to beat for our next invasion (who will it be? Syria? Iran?) perhaps this is the year to get serious about Christian’s responsibility to walk the lonely road to the cross, side-by-side with the Prince of Peace.

As recently as three years ago, Eunjoo Mary Kim though so, as she invited readers of Homily Service to consider the theme of peace, and Jesus’ transgressive proclamation of it in the midst of the pax Romana.

If God visited modern Jerusalem, our cities, with an offer of peace via God’s son Jesus, where could God find those who would truly understand god’s peace revealed in this lowly Jesus and walk the path of peace with him?

In fact, the path of peace that Jesus walked with patience and humility is not easy for us to understand or to accept. The United States of America is experiencing times just as in the first-century Roman Empire. But, unlike the first-century Christians, most residents of the American empire have benefited from its capitalism and militarism. Many of our churches accommodate pax USA, in wanting to get along with and prosper in the world, by smoothing the sharp edge of the Gospel. They often replace the lowly Jesus in the Lukan passage with their wishful images of what Jesus should be – the symbol of power and richness. As a result, many church in our cities often become little more than another appealing commodity for middle-class consumers. It is no wonder that in our cities it is truly hard to find followers of Jesus who walk the path of peace with humility and patience.

Do you preach on Palm/Passion Sunday, or do you let the proclamation of the Passion stand as the proclaimed word?

Eunjoo Mary Kim, HomilyService 43: 2, 67.

Eunjoo Mary Kim is Professor of Homiletics and director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at The Iliff Schoolof Theology, Denver. She is the author of several books, and most recently was the editor of Women, Church, andLeadership: New Paradigms: Essays in Honor of Jean Miller Schmidt.

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