Everything you wanted to know about Christianity
at the Anglican Parish of the Otways
Please join me each week for our reflections
of sermons conducted during our church service.
Plus, occasional splashes of humour and epiphanies!
With much Love and Blessings
Rev. Jenny Brandon
PALM Sunday see the beginning of Holy Week when we reflect on the passion of Jesus.
After three years of going where he wanted to, he is now lead along the path of death by others.
Palm Sunday derives its name from the palm branches that were waved by the crowds of people and strewn in the path of Jesus as he entered Jerusalem for the Passover riding on a donkey...
As a symbol of their faith and devotion, many Christians keep the palm crosses which are distributed during Palm Sunday service and hang them in their houses through the year...
After Jesus is handed over to Pilate,
he hands him over to the cohort
six hundred armed men who watch the spectacle
of Jesus’ being stripped naked being publicly
abuse and tortured.
Then the taunting continues with the crowd
and the religious leadership playing their parts.
The followers of Jesus had seen his power
and must have hoped that he would come down off the cross.
“Come on, Jesus, show those mocking you
what divine power looks like!”
But he remains the object of their derision and violence.
The gravity of the events reach their culmination
when Jesus cries out from the cross.
His shrill cry is filled with anguish.
This is raw emotional pain Jesus is experiencing
as he seeks God, his heavenly Father,
whom he loves dearly
but who does not come to his aid.
He dies profoundly disoriented,
this person who had oriented his life toward the will of God.
But of course, God isn’t simply throwing
Jesus to the wolves,Jesus goes voluntarily.
With the death of Jesus,
the temple curtain that was eighty feet tall
with the panorama of the heavens
wondrously embroidered upon it is ripped in two
from top to bottom. This ripping echoes the
tearing of the heavens at Jesus’ baptism.
Yet no divine voice speaks.
Rather, the centurion who has overseen the crucifixion speaks:
‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’
While some have suggested
this is one more sarcastic taunt of the crucified,
this is not indicated in the text.
The centurion may not understand the weight of what he is saying.
But the gospel writer wants the reader,
us, to understand and confess this truth.
In this moment,
when the divine barriers between God
and humanity are ripped asunder,
something essential happens.
When the spirit of God is on the loose,
even the executioner can be turned around
to see what he has done.
The spirit points him and also us to a Messiah of peace
who does not seek to save himself,
but loses himself for the sake of others.
This Galilean miracle worker stuck to God’s project
to the bitter end.
He dies an innocent death.
But in that very moment
the centurion sees that brutality is not the answer
to life’s perplexing problems.
The way out of the cycles of violence is laid bare in Jesus’ death.
We see the violence and long for a better way to live.
Jesus shows us in the passion story
how to respond to violence.
He absorbed it,
and returned it as love and forgiveness.
This is the victory of love over all the powers of destruction.
In Jesus’ ultimate solidarity
with those who have tasted the bitter
feeling of violence, pain and rejection,
God paradoxically becomes present.
In the end, it is love
and only love that is still standing.
Let us remember this when we face life’s difficulties.
The Lord Be with You!
About the author
Rev. Jenny is an ordained Priest of the Anglican Diocese delivering services at Anglican Parish of the Otway churches every week.
With great depth of knowledge and a spiritual practice that shows she walks her talk and has taken her to the far reaches of N.T. Australia working with indigenous youth and elders.