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Solidarity Overcomes



“Solidarity Overcomes”

March 24, 2024 - Cobleskill United Methodist Church, Pastor Anna Blinn Cole

Mark 11:1-11

Palm Sunday



Mark 11:1-11

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2and said to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3If anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?” just say this, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.” ’ 4They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5some of the bystanders said to them, ‘What are you doing, untying the colt?’ 6They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,‘Hosanna!   Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!10   Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.


Color….  Why color in Lent?   Because spiritual practice is not one-dimensional and Lent doesn’t need to be depressing.  When spiritual practice is something you want to do instead of something you feel obligated to do, it just hits differently.  

Practices – Creativity, Waking up to God, Fasting, Justice, Simplicity, Compassion.  Each week we talked about practical ideas for how to bring these practices into your daily life.  In just a moment I’m going to ask if you had an experience with one of the practices you’d like to share about.  

But first, I’ll share this.  Trying things out collectively has been fun.  I mentioned early on in Lent that there is kind of a stereotype of some spiritual practices in Lent… like no red meat on Fridays that have been ingrained because of other Christian traditions.  And while the whole thing of what we are doing this year is to mix it up and try new things, there is something powerful about trying the same things at the same time as other people.  On the day during our week of simplicity when we went meat free, it was fun thinking about others of you being creative in your kitchens.  We even shared recipes on our church Facebook page.  Community practices not only accountability but also solidarity.

So, what did you take away from Lent this season.  Where there any practices that left an impact on you?  Maybe it was one in our color wheel, and maybe it was something different.  

___

Red- It’s been a colorful journey.   And it’s not over yet.  One more color was added today, red.  The spiritual practices haven’t really had a specific connection to the colors thus far this lent.  Except for today.  This week’s spiritual practice is community and the color red lines up with the liturgical color for this week in the giant color wheel of the church year.  Why red?  And why community?  

Palm Sunday is a pivot point in Jesus’ story and community is a key piece today and this week.  Word had really spread near and far about Jesus.  His teaching, his healing, his radical love. And people were excited to not just see him, but to be in solidarity with him.  Some historians have noted that on the day Jesus entered Jerusalem there was not just one parade, but two.  One for Roman governor Pontius Pilate, coming into the city with his war horses and suits of armor in a show of force before the Passover holiday.  And on the other side of town, there was Jesus intentionally riding a humble donkey low to the ground, knowing full well that in this city he had enemies.  But instead of a suit of armor, Jesus came ride in with something stronger: community.  

Mark tells us that many people gathered to line Jesus' path. They cut palm branches to wave as he passed by and they lay their cloaks over the dusty road, a humbling gesture of respect.  

But the parade was just the beginning and marked a pivot point between a festive and celebrated entrance into the city and something much more painful to come. The color of this week, Holy Week, is red because Palms give way to passion.  Passion in the sense of suffering.  Upon entering the city it’s clear that Jesus’ message of table-turning love and justice has turned the authorities against him to the point that they are willing to do anything to get rid of him. His community sticks with him, but it’s hard for everyone to stay.  Some feel like they might be in danger just by associating with him.  Others wonder if backing away slowly might make their departure less noticeable.  But still others remained.  His disciples risk a lot just to have a goodbye dinner with him in the Upper Room on Thursday.  And when Jesus falls under the weight of his own cross, a member of his community stepped off of the sidelines and helped carry the weight.  Several gospel accounts speak to how a group of women stayed with Jesus right until the very end.  Others in his community may not have been at the foot of the cross, but they were working in the background making arrangements for a respectful burial and standing up for his teachings in the days and years to follow.  

It's actually the hard turns in life that show the true significance of community.  Yeah, the high moments like parades and celebrations are fun and festive, but the community that sticks around when the parade has ended is the true blessing.  

And here in lies the message for us today.  Community is about solidarity.  And solidarity overcomes the hardest of things.  We show up here week after week not just because the snacks are good, though they are.  Not just because the music fills us up, though it does.  Not just because we individually get something out of the message, and maybe sometimes you do.  We are a community of Jesus-followers because this was never a solo-sport.  Gathering together as a group not only continues the tradition of solidarity with Jesus, but extends that solidarity to one another.  When you show up here, you never know who is going to be uplifted by your smile.  You never know who will hear your story and be inspired.  You never know who desperately needs a kind word today.  When we show up here in church as a community, we show up not for ourselves, but for each other.  

We’re entering the most difficult week in our Christian faith.  A week filled with deep sorrow and longing as we see God incarnate suffer and die for loving too much.  The most important thing to do this week is to gather.  This is when community matters most.  You could skip from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday and never even wonder about what you missed.  You could, but you’d be missing something irreplicable.  Community is not just about the high moments, but also the lows.  Collectively we bear witness to suffering and show up for each other even when it’s hard.  That’s the kind of solidarity that overcomes even the greatest odds.  

As we sing our next hymn, I’m going to invite our children to come forward and help as we prepare our sanctuary for Good Friday. Our ushers will also move through the room to receive your offerings.  

But first, let us pray.  


Grace and Peace,

Pastor Anna


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