Our Last Sunday of Lent

Dear Sisters & Brothers,

It is hard to believe that we are almost at the end of our Lenten Journey. We gather together as a community on this very special Sunday--the only Sunday where we read two Gospels. The first Gospel is proclaimed even before we enter our church. And after proclaiming Jesus’ triumphal entrance into His own city, we too acknowledge our King and enter our church with great jubilation! It is a joyous parade where we bear witness to the world that Jesus Christ is Lord & King of all! The Apostles must have been on cloud-nine. Despite all of their fear and worry, everything was going wonderful. People were gathering from all over the city and country-side to pay homage to Jesus. They were covering the street before Him with palm branches and giving all glory to God.          

But those with evil in their hearts...those with only darkness in their souls...the small, the petty, the jealous...all they wanted to do was destroy Jesus. They could not recognize the Hand-of-God at work in the world. All they could see was themselves. They were the only ones that mattered. So all they did was double their efforts. They began to sow rumors of evil and fear. They began to spread rumors of heresy. They labeled Jesus as an outsider, and his friends as sinners and criminals. They warned people that anyone who believed in Jesus...that anyone who listened to His teachings...that anyone who sought his healing, would be labeled a sinner and condemned to die right along with Him.           

It is amazing how fast things changed. The very people who were singing His praises, now wanted Him crucified. Those who saw Him as their hope & salvation, now labeled Jesus a sinner. Even those he had healed, those who had been crippled and deaf and mute and even blind, now came down with amnesia and refused to stand by He who had given them back their life. Just like the “other nine lepers” who never came back to thank Jesus, now thousands upon thousands of people crept off to hide in the dark. One minute people are tearing off someone’s roof so they can be healed; and the next, they have not only forsaken Jesus, but many of them joined right in with the Pharisees.           

Our last Sunday of Lent goes from a jubilant parade to the crucifixion of an innocent man, our Lord and Savior. While Jesus’ human nature is afraid, even asking for this cup to pass Him by, He nevertheless understands that this is how it must be. As the only truly innocent person, He will take the sins of the world upon Himself. He will offer Himself as the unblemished lamb, as both the first and the last, perfect & true sacrifice. Despite the blindness that lurks in our hearts, the fear that dominates our lives, the sin that often controls our behavior, Jesus still loves us. And out of love, He embraces The Cross. Out of mercy & compassion, even for those who cried out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” He goes to the grave willingly. He is the link between heaven & earth, between The Father & we, who become His adoptive children through this perfect act of selfless love.          

So we may mourn for a short time my Sisters & Brothers, just as Jesus wept for His friend Lazarus. But remember, Rock Church, we will REJOICE again! We WILL see our Lord & friend again. We WILL stand before the OPEN tomb and sing the glories of heaven! So let us walk beside our Lord & King, both in triumph and to Calvary. Let us remain faithful, even when the others run away in fear. Let us gather in The House of our Lord, even if many pews are empty. Let us remind others that Jesus is just as relevant today as He was when He triumphantly entered Jerusalem. Let us remind ourselves that Jesus willingly does this for you & me. Surely He deserves our loyalty, our faithfulness, our companionship. Let us stand by Jesus in His hour of need, just as He has always been there in ours. We must daily remind ourselves that Jesus Christ must live in our hearts. He must be relevant to our lives. He must not only be a day off at the end-of-our-week, but He must be a part of our entire week, our whole lives.

And let us continually bear witness to the entire world that Jesus Christ is LORD & KING!!!

In the Redeemer,

Fr. Rick