Donkeys and the Mind of Christ, a sermon from Palm Sunday, 2019

Donkeys and the Mind of Christ, a sermon from Palm Sunday, 2019

Author:
April 05, 2020

And so it begins.  We have arrived outside the gates of Jerusalem and are preparing to observe this week that we call holy.  In the past I’ve spent a fair amount of time and energy talking about Jesus’ triumphantly ironic entry into Jerusalem.  I’ve looked at the social, political, and historical realities to help set the scene of today’s event. I’ve even tried to bring in the sights and sounds, the excitement and anxiety of a first century resident of Jerusalem all with the hope of placing ourselves squarely in this amazing story as we recount it today.  But today, I want us to be in a different head space altogether. Literally. Let me explain.
“Let the same mind be in you that was in Jesus Christ.”  As I was thinking about the lessons and everything going on in today’s readings, I kept coming back to this.  And you may be surprised to hear that I’m not talking about the usual, “I wonder what they were thinking in this moment” rabbit hole. While I’m sure it’s fascinating to spend a little time wondering what Jesus was thinking on the back of the donkey watching this surreal scene play out before him.  I want to step back and look at the larger picture, namely, what comprises the mind of Christ?
Thankfully, Paul offers some guidance.  “who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death-- even death on a cross.”  Intense, right? But, I mean, Jesus didn’t say take up your easter bonnet and follow me did he? And maybe that’s the point. When we explore the mind of Christ, obedience, humility, and faithfulness to God, we discover anew Jesus’ vocation. Can you think of a clearer image of Jesus’ faithfulness than him riding into a Jerusalem that had just been reinforced by a whole host of Roman soldiers?  On a donkey? He knew what was coming, and he didn’t change course.  
The final week of Jesus’ life reveals his vocation.  Our observance and remembrance of his passion in many ways reveals ours.Barbara Brown Taylor captures the spirit of our shared vocation when she writes, 
“On Palm Sunday we do not witness the singular death of a singular child of God.  Instead, we witness the kind of self-emptying that we too are capable of. The verbs of our lives can flow from this same Christ-mind, this same way of seeing ourselves in relationship to God and to the world.  Sooner or later, we too will be called to be obedient to death. In the meantime we are as free as Jesus to decide how we will spend our energy: on self-protection or self-donation, on saving ourselves (and our religious institutions) or giving ourselves away?” 
As we embark on this Holy Week, my hope is our journey with Christ during his last week reveals and invigorates our vocation, our life in Christ.  On Thursday evening we remember the importance of the shared meal and what it means to us as a community of faith. We also have the opportunity to, as Jesus did, serve one another in the profoundly simple yet powerful act of foot washing.  We make our love known by serving others, laying our pride aside. On Friday, we stand at the foot of the cross, witnessing the ultimate offering of love for the world. Faithfulness and forgiveness embodied, poured out entirely with nothing held back.  And then on Sunday morning we join the disciples at the empty tomb, tears of pain and loss changing to tears of joy because death, and the powers of this world could not hold the transforming love of the risen Lord down in the dirt. We are raised with Him, and called to live a resurrection life sharing and discerning the mind of Christ. 
Faithfulness.  Humility. Service.  Sacrifice. The mind of Christ.  These are the hallmarks of Jesus’ vocation.  And ours if we so choose.  
Let us pray:
Assist us mercifully with your help, O Lord God of our salvation, that we may enter with joy upon the contemplation of those mighty acts, whereby you have given us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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