A reflection for the 28th March 2021
Palm Sunday

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Offered for Sunday 28th March 2021


Stephen

Reflections Script

'Palm Sunday'

March 28th 2021


To start, a couple of verses,
suitably adapted, from a favourite
poem of mine written by Steve Turner
back in the 80's under the title
'Stuck at Seventeen'.

Hey Mum I'm all grown up,
yet I feel like a kid!
Maybe something I ate or
something that you did!
I'm going on seventy,
and I'm stuck at seventeen!

Should be into grey suits,
but I'm still wearing jeans
You said that 'Rock 'n' Roll'
Was an adolescent phase
That sprung up like a spot
And disappeared in days
You said I'd see sense

Then turn into a man
Try Tchaikovsky
Throw my records in the can
But I'm all grown up and
I'm stuck at seventeen
I'm an innocent delinquent
nearly seventy and still a
rock 'n' rolling being.

I've shared this to state my credentials for the
illustrations either side of our opening prayer

'Every Breath You Take'
by 'The Police' was the biggest selling
UK single of 1983 and is still very popular,
yet despite the song's huge popularity,
the lyrics are commonly misunderstood.

The singer, Sting, talks about watching
the one he loves where ever she goes.
People have assumed this means he is
so besotted with his true love,
he simply cannot stop thinking about her,
which is why the song is played at
many wedding receptions.

However this is no happy love song.
Sting was really describing an obsessive
ex-lover stalking someone.
Rather than being romantic, the lyrics are,
in fact, extremely uncomfortable!

Why are the lyrics misunderstood?
Possibly because people have failed to see
the clues in the lyrics:
they have not looked closely enough.
They have allowed their preconceptions
to prevent them seeing how different this song is
from a normal love song.

Jesus' entry into Jerusalem was also misunderstood.
The crowd, too, had preconceptions,
preventing them from really understanding Jesus' arrival.
While they realised that he was claiming to be
their long awaited King, their Messiah,
they made wrong assumptions about what kind
of King he would be!



Let us Pray


When God appeared on earth in the person of Jesus,
most of the world did not recognize him
and therefore did not worship him.
Today we ask for faith that will
open our eyes to see Jesus for who he is,
that we might worship him in truth.
We open our eyes to see his glory
We open our ears to hear his wisdom.
We open our hands to offer him gifts
We open our mouths to sing his praise.
We open our hearts to offer him
our love He is Lord!
Amen.



Address


In the summer of 1970 a young
British rock band were seeking a new name.
1970 also marked the centenary of the death
of Charles Dickens, and the surrounding
publicity gave them their inspiration.

But rather than choose a hero's name,
they settled on a very unlikely Dickens character.
The band having performed under various names
finally became 'Uriah Heep', and, along with Led Zeppelin
and others, helped to establish what was eventually
to be called 'Heavy Metal Music'.

As the Dickens villain famously claimed to be
"very umble", The newly named "Uriah Heep" called
their debut album "Very Eavy...Very Umble"

Humble name or not, Very 'Eavy' Very 'Umble'
launched a career lasting over fifty years,
with adoring fans flocking to their concerts
throughout the world,
just as crowds greeted Jesus on his
entry into Jerusalem.

In David Copperfield, of course,
the character named 'Uriah Heep'
only appears to be humble,
pretending to be a self-effacing servant.
Behind the scenes, he was planning
the downfall of his employer.

Jesus was neither villain nor fraud,
but he too was not quite
what he seemed to observers.
Although the triumphal entry is recorded
in all four gospels, Marks narrative
differs in some respects from the
other narratives,
not least the "leafy branches" aren't
specified as Palm leaves.
Also, we're told the animal on which
Jesus rode was a colt,
a word we normally associate
with a young horse.

However, the original Greek word
can mean a young donkey,
as clarified in the other accounts
and preserved in traditional hymns
and Palm Sunday processions.

To us, it seems clear Jesus was indeed
being humble, riding on a donkey.
Scholars have observed Kings returning
from victory and entering a city in peace
did ride donkeys.
Horses were reserved for riding into war.

Onlookers would have known that.
Jesus was certainly greeted as a
King by the fickle crowds who would
soon turn against him,
just as some fans of 'Uriah Heep'
deserted them as their style of music
began to evolve and change!

As Jesus entered Jerusalem,
the crowds around him shouted:
"Blessed is the coming kingdom
of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!"
Whether derived from Hebrew,
Aramaic or Greek, the word "Hosanna"
is a plea to be saved
as well as a term of respect.

At the time, many were anticipating
a messiah, a royal Son of David
anointed by God to restore Israel's fortunes.
However, despite how it seemed to the crowd,
Jesus was not the sort of king
the people of Jerusalem were expecting.

He truly was humble!
Did they turn from Jesus when it became clear
he would not be riding into battle against
the occupying Romans
and thus save Israel from humiliation?
Was he not what he seemed, after all?

The answer can be found in the beautiful
hymn/creed Paul quotes in his letter
to the Philippians in Chapter 2.
Jesus was not an earthly king,
but very God in human form,
who "humbled himself and became
obedient to the point of death;
even death on a cross."

Such humility was to lead to the apparent
humiliation of Good Friday.
But it would also lead to a far greater
victory than one over the Romans;
our Saviour's victory over sin and death
that we will celebrate on Easter Sunday.

If we seek to follow Jesus,
can we try to emulate in some way
the true humility he showed?
Being humble is not grovelling like the
Dickens character Uriah Heep,
or choosing his less than heroic name
for a rock band.

In the familiar definition;
"Humility is not thinking less of yourself,
but thinking of yourself less."
Rather than save himself
from excruciating pain,
Jesus sacrificed himself for us.
Can we think of ourselves less,
put the needs of others on at least
an equal footing with our own,
and thus love our neighbours as ourselves?

Can we avoid humiliating others
by insulting them as Jesus was insulted,
or discriminating against them?
Most importantly of all,
can we not judge people by their appearance,
like the superficially "humble"
villain Uriah Heep' in David Copperfield,
and like the apparent humiliation of
Jesus on the cross,
things are not always what they seem.



To Summarise

The Dickens character Uriah Heep,
whose name was borrowed by a rock band,
feigned humility.
Greeted as a King,
Jesus would show true humility
rather than military ambition.
Like rock fans faced with change,
the cheering Jerusalem crowds
would turn against Jesus.
As the crowds misunderstood Jesus,
we should not judge by appearances
if we wish to follow him,
whose apparent defeat led to the
'Glorious Easter Victory'.



Our Blessing


May God in Christ
by the power of the Holy Spirit
Challenge our preconceptions
which prevent us from understanding
Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem.
And may God the Father keep you
forever in his love.
May Christ the Son give you
courage to follow in his footsteps.
And may the Holy Spirit show you
the way to resurrection life.
And the blessing of God almighty......


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