Palm Sunday 2022 - Introduction to the Peace
We live in a beautiful world. Yet this world is consumed by violence, war and oppression. We gather in the midst of the chaos of this beautiful world. The violence of this world. The fear and anguish of this world.
We gather to share bread and wine, not separate from the events of this world, but inextricably as part of this world. Just as when Jesus entered Jerusalem he entered a city occupied by the Roman empire. A city caught up in the chaos of this beautiful world.
Jesus entered Jerusalem as a liberator, surrounded by the poor, the forgotten. They worshipped him laying cloaks and palm branches at his feet.
The Russian military entered Ukraine at the behest of a power-hungry dictator. The army followed his call and were met not with worship or songs of joy and liberation, but with firm resistance from a free nation.
Jesus entered Jerusalem accompanied by his followers, a rag-tag group of prophets, fishermen, tax collectors, zealots, including those with concealed knives, those with concealed motives.
The Russian military entered Ukraine with planes, helicopters, tanks, armoured trains, mercenaries, soldiers, invaders, including those who believed they were liberating an oppressed people.
When he entered Jerusalem Jesus faced down the vast and expansive Roman empire on nothing more than a borrowed donkey. His weapons were words of hope and acts of love. He spoke uncomfortable truth to power and turned the tables on a system that had lost its way.
The Russian military entered Ukraine with one of the worlds greatest military forces accompanied by a reign of fire and chaos and violence and blood and were met by elderly women bearing sunflower seeds and the guards of strategic islands all speaking truth to power.
As Jesus entered Jerusalem he began his final pilgrimage towards his victory. A victory shrouded in loss and devastation. A victory marked by the death of a political insurrectionist. A victory that looked like abject failure. The victory of death on a cross.
The Russian military entered Ukraine hungry for victory and causing loss and devastation across a whole nation. Looking for a victory marked by the planned assassination of a so called “Nazi” President. This hunger for violent victory sparked into a terror that has destroyed cities, families and led to the most heinous of crimes. Right now we can have no idea of what is a victory or a failure for the Russian military and we can have no idea of the pain of those whose lives have been destroyed by this terror. For the Ukrainian people a victory could be the end of hostilities and the retreat of the Russian military. But in the face of such devastation even this victory will hurt like abject failure.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem he did so knowing that to bring about liberation he would have to lay down his life, that through his sacrifice the deep peace of shalom might finally be pronounced. The same peace we gather to share today in the sharing of hospitality, the sharing of bread and wine, of word and prayer.
When the Russian military entered Ukraine they did so expecting an easy victory, expecting to be seen as liberators of the oppressed, with delusions of bringing peace. But the way of conquest and war is not the way of peace, of shalom.
Jesus entered Jerusalem to heal the hurts and divisions of this world. To speak faith, hope and love over the lies of the world and call people into following the way of peace.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
John 14:27 (NIVUK)
So now let us share in the peace that Jesus gives us, a peace that is not enamoured with the violence of war, but is instead hopeful and everlasting.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.
Let us offer one another a sign of Jesus’ unfailing peace.
The peace is shared