Tag Archives: Palm-Sunday

When the Cheering Stopped – a thought for Palm/Passion Sunday

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Some years ago a book was written by Gene Smith, a noted American historian. The title was “When The Cheering Stopped.” It was the story of President Woodrow Wilson and the events leading up to and following WWI. When that war was over Wilson was an international hero. There was a great spirit of optimism abroad, and people actually believed that the last war had been fought and the world had been made safe for democracy.

On his first visit to Paris after the war Wilson was greeted by cheering mobs. He was actually more popular than their own heroes. The same thing was true in England and Italy. In a Vienna hospital a Red Cross worker had to tell the children that there would be no Christmas presents because of the war and the hard times. The children didn’t believe her. They said that President Wilson was coming and they knew that everything would be all right.

The cheering lasted about a year. Then it gradually began to stop. It turned out that the political leaders in Europe were more concerned with their own agendas than they were a lasting peace. At home, Woodrow Wilson ran into opposition in the United States Senate and his League of Nations was not ratified. Under the strain of it all the President’s health began to break. In the next election his party was defeated. So it was that Woodrow Wilson, a man who barely a year or two earlier had been heralded as the new world Messiah, came to the end of his days a broken and defeated man.

It’s a sad story, but one that is not altogether unfamiliar. The ultimate reward for someone who tries to translate ideals into reality is apt to be frustration and defeat.

When Jesus came to Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday, the crowds went wild. Cheering “Hosanna!”, they greeted their “King and Saviour”

And then the acclamation turned to condemnation and cries for his blood. “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

And he was broken on the Cross.

Just another false Messiah. Just another phoney prophet. What a let down. What frustration. What hopes, dashed at Calvary. Defeated, dead then buried and forgotten……..

And then… and then…. the cry:

HE IS RISEN! And with joy, our response: HE IS RISEN INDEED!

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No Compromise (a short homily for Palm/Passion Sunday)

Palm/Passion Sunday – Year B:   Mark 11 verses 1-11

 

Most people will have seen Mel Gibson’s rousing (and historically illiterate) movie,  Braveheart.  In the film, William Wallace attempts to unite the feuding factions in Scotland in their fight against England in the 13th century.  In doing so, he tries to elicit the help of Robert the Bruce.

 

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Bruce refuses to help and in soliloquy he says: “Wallace is an uncompromising man.  Uncompromising men are admirable.  But only a compromising man can be king.”

We can affirm that on Palm Sunday an uncompromising man became King of all history.

There may be times when we have to be flexible.  On strategies, we can compromise, but not in principles.

There must come a time when we ask: Is this the way it is–Yes or No?  Palm Sunday challenges the notion that all of life is but a part of the compromising process.

There once was an English priest called Charlie Andrews who became a friend of Gandhi in India.

Andrews worked and lived with the Indian Nationalists.  The Government, however, also used him as an intermediary to explain positions and decisions.

Most British people in India misunderstood him, because they thought that he was a traitor to Britain.  Many also said that he had compromised his Christian faith.

He was reviled and slandered, even although he wrote books with titles like ‘What I owe to Christ’

Andrews was really, truly, and sincerely, a man of God and a committed Christian.

He followed the way of the Cross in more ways than patiently bearing lies, insults, and abuse from the British in India.  He also lived a most spartan life in primitive village conditions, and lived tirelessly for other people.  Nobody in any kind of need was outside his concern.

 

cf-andrews

 

 

 

During Gandhi’s illness, Charlie Andrews was constantly with him, and the press reported that he would sing Ghandi’s favourite hymn to him – ‘When I survey the wondrous Cross’

Charlie Andrews never counted the cost to himself of anything he did.  That is the true mark of the loyal follower of Jesus Christ, who himself gave up his life for many.  Jesus Christ came to serve humankind, regardless of the criticism, condemnation, and misrepresentation.  He never compromised his message or his mission.

Nor did Charlie Andrews, nor have countless other followers of Christ in all centuries since Jesus uncompromisingly started to bring the Kingdom of God into the lives of men and women everywhere.

On Palm Sunday, the crowd cheered Jesus as he entered Jerusalem.  Later that week, the acclamation turned to condemnation, as they bayed for his blood with their cries of ‘Crucify him!  Crucify him!’

These people just could not follow Jesus all the way through.  For, when he became unpopular because of his uncompromising stand, they abandoned him.

Is our faith like that?  Are we fair-weather Christians, ready to drop principles or compromise our beliefs when the going gets tough, our position threatened, or our personal comfort disturbed?

On the other hand, are we like Charlie Andrews and his kind whose faith never wavered?  A man who stuck to his principles.  A true disciple of his Lord and Master who, undoubtedly, took these words of Jesus to heart:

‘If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me’

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Hossanasaurus Rex

Hossanasaurus Rex

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April 13, 2014 · 18:09

When the cheering stopped …… a thought for Palm/Passion Sunday

Some years ago a book was written by Gene Smith, a noted American historian. The title was “When The Cheering Stopped.” It was the story of President Woodrow Wilson and the events leading up to and following WWI. When that war was over Wilson was an international hero. There was a great spirit of optimism abroad, and people actually believed that the last war had been fought and the world had been made safe for democracy.

On his first visit to Paris after the war Wilson was greeted by cheering mobs. He was actually more popular than their own heroes. The same thing was true in England and Italy. In a Vienna hospital a Red Cross worker had to tell the children that there would be no Christmas presents because of the war and the hard times. The children didn’t believe her. They said that President Wilson was coming and they knew that everything would be all right.

The cheering lasted about a year. Then it gradually began to stop. It turned out that the political leaders in Europe were more concerned with their own agendas than they were a lasting peace. At home, Woodrow Wilson ran into opposition in the United States Senate and his League of Nations was not ratified. Under the strain of it all the President’s health began to break. In the next election his party was defeated. So it was that Woodrow Wilson, a man who barely a year or two earlier had been heralded as the new world Messiah, came to the end of his days a broken and defeated man.

It’s a sad story, but one that is not altogether unfamiliar. The ultimate reward for someone who tries to translate ideals into reality is apt to be frustration and defeat. 

When Jesus came to Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday, the crowds went wild.  Cheering “Hosanna!”, they greeted their “King and Saviour”

And then the acclamation turned to condemnation and cries for his blood.  “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!”

And he was broken on the Cross.

Just another false Messiah.  Just another phoney prophet.  What a let down.  What frustration.  What hopes, dashed at Calvary. Defeated, dead then buried and forgotten……..

And then… and then…. the cry:

HE IS RISEN!  And with joy, our response:  HE IS RISEN INDEED!

 

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Jerusalem

Jerusalem

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April 27, 2013 · 18:48

Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs

some of these ole boys down south are dinosaurs too

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April 14, 2013 · 08:04

Palm Sunday 1982- Port of Spain, Trinidad

 

Picture an Island in the sun, where palm trees grow and there are golden beaches and turquoise waters.

But come inland from this tropical paradise to the dust and dirt of a city, where there is noise and squalor, crime, frustration and violence just bubbling away under the surface.

This is Port of Spain, the capital city of the Caribbean island of Trinidad – an Island named by Christopher Columbus in honour of the Holy Trinity.

Largely now thoughts of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have been replaced by a new trinity of poverty, crime and drugs.

There is a novel by the American writer Herman Wouk – “Don’t Stop the Carnival” – in which he describes a fictitious West Indian island as being like “Hell with palm trees”

To many of the inhabitants of Trinidad, particularly the very poor, the exploited, and the victims of crime, that description might just fit.

But every Palm Sunday, into this environment and situation, comes something positive and life-affirming: a procession of witness.

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More than 300 people from all denominations of the Church would gather at the Roman Catholic Cathedral one year – at the Anglican the next – and after a brief service of prayer and praise, we’d set off, with a REAL Palm frond in our hand, and to the accompaniment of the Salvation Army brass band playing “Onward Christian Soldiers”, off we’d go “like a mighty army”, walking, almost marching, through the East Dry River of the City, the mid-afternoon sun belting down upon us (in plastic dog-collar and a dark suit not exactly the most comfortable of garb).

On we would go, along the main streets, the mean streets, the miserable and wretched streets, passing the indifferent, the rum-swillers, the junkies, the pool hall patrons, past the tired and worry-etched faces of the downcast, past the lined faces of the young mothers, looking old beyond their years with child-bearing, past the crumbling tenements and the shanties.

“Onward, Christian Soldiers”.  Palms waving .  Stopping at the Moravian Church, the Baptist, the Presbyterian, the Salvation Army, the Church of Scotland the Anglican and so on – for brief periods of prayer and meditation.

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“Onward Christian Soldiers” After three and a half hours, we were tired, hot,sticky, but uplifted. “Like a mighty army”, united and ready to tackle anything the works of darkness could throw against us.

And, you know, we would pick up folk – bystanders – as this procession weaved its way through the City.  There is always hope.

As a PS – one year, the beadle at Greyfriars Church of Scotland on Frederick Street – part of the route – forgot that we were coming and had locked the gates of the church. He was somewhere at the back, watching cricket on TV and couldn’t be roused.

Maybe the Sally Army Band should have played a rousing version of “Awake my soul!” to get him up!

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(Greyfriars Church)

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