Before we begin our last blog before Easter, please join me in prayer:
God, we gather today to learn from the example of your Messiah, Jesus. As we move into this final week of the season of Lent, show us how rightly to use the power you give us. Give us ears to hear your word, eyes to see your face, and courage to follow the path you set before us. Through Christ we pray. Amen.
In my sermon for this past week, you heard me talk about the theater group Improv Everywhere. You can learn a lot more about them on their website, including a list of their missions. If you want to see the video I referred to of the founder, Charlie Todd, talking about why he does what he does, you can check that one out here on YouTube, or on my blog. Also – if you want to read my sermon from Palm Sunday 2012, you can find it here.
If you heard my sermon on Sunday, or as you read the lesson for this week, what are your thoughts about thinking of Jesus’ entrance into the city as a form of street theater? Do you find that to be an understanding of the story that sheds any new light on Jesus’ entrance for you? Do you prefer it to the traditional understanding of the entrance of Jesus into the city?
The author of our lesson talks a lot about the issues related to power in this final lesson. At one point, he asks each of us to reflect on the powers that we all might hold. He writes the following:
Some readers of this study may indeed possess political power; many may have significant financial power; others may have power in the media. Most of us, simply by dint of our relative prosper- ity and citizenship in the most powerful nation on earth, possess a sort of secondary, but nevertheless substantial, power. What does Jesus’ ironic critique of power mean for people who have power and who also try to follow him? (p. 2)
As you read that quote – and as you reflect on questions related to power, how would you respond to these questions: What kinds of power do you possess? What kinds of power does our congregation hold? The author goes on to say talk, again, about how Jesus’ “triumphal” entrance into Jerusalem was really a parody on power. What do you think the implications are of Jesus parodying power in the story? How might that affect our own lives and the ways in which we use the powers that we have?
The author ends our Lenten study with this quote:
And we who follow the one who entered the city mounted on an ass, burdened with the very power he rejected, are called to remember these two things about that power. We are called to practice power for others, not just for ourselves or our family, or our race, or our class, or our tribe, or our nation, but for the other, the other who is not us, or even like us. And we are called to remember, to always remember, even (especially) when we are most tempted to forget, that the world’s default-setting kind of power—violence, cleverness, law, technique, money—the very kind of power that Jesus did not choose, is simply not the most powerful power after all.
Jesus was clearly thumbing his nose at the powers of his day, which we could see through his street theater production of his entrance into Jerusalem. How does this idea help get you ready for Holy Week this week? What new insights do you take away from Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem this year?