Read Pastor Marty’s sermon….04.09.17 An Amazing Turn of Mysterious Events Matthew 21 23 and 27
April 9, 2017
Amazed by A Turn of Mysterious Events
Matthew 21.1-11 | Matthew 23.37-39 | Matthew 27.32-38
Poetic/Witness OPENING | To Boldly Go… Live Long and Prosper
[Place Star Trek Enterprise on top of pulpit]
SLIDE #33: Starship Enterprise
This is a model of the Starship Enterprise
If any adult like myself has such a model of the Enterprise,
it is a big hint that I am a true Trekkie!
I must confess that I have been a fan of Star Trek
since I was a child.
Growing up in the turbulent 1960s and 1970s,
I was drawn to the story of hope embedded in that TV show.
The story talked about a future where humanity had overcome
its warring against one another.
Much of human violence and poverty and racial hated
were now in the past.
The crew of the Starship were now explorers,
as their mission said,
“to seek out new life and new civilizations,
to boldly go where no one has gone before.”
Watching the other TV channels about the war in Vietnam
and then about the corruption of our government,
that story caught my imagination and still does.
There is a rather quirky and queer connection
between the hope of Star Trek
and the hope that we hear overflowing
from the story of Jesus today.
Several years ago, Leonard Nimoy wrote his memoirs,
entitled, I am Not Spock.
As he told his story, he mentioned a little mysterious event
that has come to be a famous gesture,
known throughout the world.
Leonard Nimoy was in a conversation
with the creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry,
about the character of Spock
They talked about how to make Spock more foreign
to the American audience—to make him a real outsider.
Roddenberry wanted to create a distinctive and foreign
greeting for this character from the planet Vulcan.
Nimoy, who as a Jew, remembered from his childhood,
a blessing that was given by the priest within Jewish worship.
In worship, the Priest would stand facing the congregation
raise his hands as he said the Priestly blessing.
At a point in the liturgy, the people would say:
“Blessed is the One who comes in the Name of Yahwah.”
Then the priest would raise his hands, with these signs,
and give the blessing:
May Yahweh bless and keep you,
May Yahweh’s face shine upon you,
and be gracious to you
May Yahweh look kindly upon you
and give you peace.
These hand signs actually mimic the Hebrew letters
which make up the name of God in that language.
SLIDE #34: Spock and sign…
So you can see how Leonard Nimoy
used this sign as Spock,
and simplified the priestly blessing
“Live long and prosper!”
SLIDE #35: “Jesus enters the city”
So when Jesus enters the city, riding on a humble donkey the crowds cheer:
“Blessed is the One who comes in the name of Yahweh.”
And then the rest of the story is what Jesus does to bless the city,
and indeed, all humanity and all creation.
In that great Jerusalem action with all the palms and cheers,
Jesus now entered the space of his enemies.
They were the powers-that-be in Jerusalem
have resisted and opposed Jesus
every step of the way
Jesus has been working to gather people
into the beloved community of God, the One who is Love.
But these powers have been working to kill Jesus and this community.
So how does Jesus face his enemies?
He enters the city on a humble donkey,
not on a war horse.
The crowds of people who have followed Jesus acclaim:
“Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Jesus enters the city with humility…
He seeks to bless the people and the city.
In contrast to the powers that are oppressing
and robbing the people of their lives,
in Matthew, Jesus immediately enters the Temple,
claims it as a House of Prayer for All People,
and begins to heal the sick and bring sight to the blind.
This is the preparation for the celebration of the Passover feast.
You might remember that the Passover
was the Jewish ritual feast of bread, wine
the sacrificial Lamb, and other elements.
The feast tells the story about God liberating
the Hebrew slaves from the powerful Pharaoh of Egypt.
Within this mysterious event of liberation,
Jesus created an event, a festival, a moveable feast,
to invite people into blessed and beloved community
and to celebrate the liberation they had experienced.
Please allow me to enter into the deep poetics of this Story…
I want to do that with the poetry
which the choir used today
in their song.
They sang about being “redeemed by the blood of the Lamb”
Again, in the poetics of the Passover and of the choir’s song,
we hear the queer language of being
“redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.”
So what in the world can that mean today?
We are so far removed
from those ancient rituals,
those mysterious events,
and those quirky words and symbols.
Or are we?
Poetic/Witness EMERGING | The Mother’s Hen’s Fierce Love
Please be patient with me.
I want to use another story of metaphors,
another parable to talk about this mysterious
“redeemed by the blood of the Lamb” poetics.
This is the parable we heard Jesus use today in the second reading
from Matthew 23.
Again, Jesus said:
You who kill the prophets and stone those who were sent to you.
How often I wanted to gather your people together,
just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.
But you didn’t want that.
Some years ago I painting this image based upon this parable of Jesus:
SLIDE #36: Painting of Mother Hen gathering her Chicks
I’d like to play with this image for a few minutes.
In the image you see a mother hen.
She is really the focal point of the image.
And beneath her sheltering wings,
there are the differing chicks
who have found a place to live.
In this painting, in the sheltering care of the Mother hen,
the chicks have found a way
to live peaceably together
even though they are very different.
What the chicks do not see, and what the Mother hen does,
is that there is a Fox threatening her chicks.
The Hen is raised up in fierce love
to protect and shield her children
from the destructive and violent ways of the Fox.
The Mother Hen, in her fierce love,
will stand between her sheltered chicks and that Fox.
She will not let the Fox lead her children
down the violent path to their own destruction
In love, the Mother hen will give her life
so that they will be free of the Fox.
SENDING |So Where are We in these Mysterious Events?
So where are we in the poetics of this parable?
Are we the chicks who are gathered under the sheltering wings,
learning to love like the Mother Hen?
Or are we like the powerful chicks of Jerusalem,
who refused to gather in loving shelter and
who have given themselves over
to the violent ways of the Fox?
In the poetics of Jesus, in other words,
have we gathered around the Mother Hen,
who is willing to die like the sacrificial Lamb,
because of her fierce love?
Like those ancient Hebrew slaves, then,
are we happily singing
that we are “redeemed by the blood of the Lamb”?
Or are we still enthralled and enslaved
by the violent ways of the Fox?
Are we gathering in a beloved community of blessing others,
or are we scattered and separate from others
haunted by the shadows of our fears and hatreds?
I am hopeful that we have songs of joy to sing today.
I am hopeful that we desire to be a beloved community,
gathered by God’s blessing,
to bless one another and are whole world.
Let me close with yet one more parable,
a closing story that leads us into the week ahead.
This is a simple parable.
It’s story about a mysterious turning of events,
a surprise ending.
It’s the story we hear in Psalm 118.
It says simply,
“the stone the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.”
In the poetics of Jesus, this stone is the fierce love of the Mother Hen,
the Lamb who was slain who comes in the name of Yahweh.
This Lamb who was slain is the very one
who speaks the blessing of God
within the sheltered, beloved community of God.
This fierce love is rejected by the powerful and violent,
rejected by the Fox
This fierce love has become the apex stone, the highest stone,
the resurrection stone.
This stone is spoken into being,
by the One crucified by our own hatred and violence:
“Father, loving like a Mother Hen,
forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.”
This is our bold and mysterious and even queer story:
Jesus’ death on the cross is God’s victory of love over hate.
The cross is a sign of love.
In these poetics, it is a shelter creating beloved community.
Love enlivens and makes alive all humanity, all creation!
Practically, humanly speaking,
isn’t this how hatred and violence are overcome?
How do we end our wars?
How do we end enmity?
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it this way:
“Love is the only power
that can make enemies into friends.”
And surely he lived this to the very end of his own life.
May we choose to live
in the poetics of this fierce love,
to bless one another,
to bless others,
to bless our world.
Live Long and Prosper.