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2019.04.14:We Just Can’t Keep Quiet!: Jesus Christ Is Lord!

Preached at First Presbyterian Church, East Aurora, NY, April 14, 2019, by Langdon “Buddy” Hubbard

We Just Can’t Keep Quiet!:

Jesus Christ Is Lord!

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Philippians 2:5-11

Luke 19:28-40 (Palms); Luke 23:1-25 (Passion)


            Jesus rides into Jerusalem, the Prince of Peace who comes to bring peace to our lives and to our world. He is the Christ, the true King, who shames all earthly leaders in their presumption of greatness.  He comes on the back of a donkey, not a stallion, a humble king, not full of himself, but full of God, who is love.  He has no need to elevate himself but God and God’s poor and broken children.  The people throw down their ragged garments, their soiled rags.  They are his rag-tag followers, the band of disciples, the people who had come to follow him during his brief sojourn of ministry. 


            There were fishermen, tax collectors, and prostitutes, the formerly demon-possessed, crippled, lame, and blind, adulterers, sinners of every kind, the people Jesus had touched in his three years of compassionate ministry.  They were all there to sing his praises for all the incredible deeds of power he had done in their lives.  We long for this different kind of leader, a different kind of king.  Christ is that different king.  He is loving, he is just, he is compassionate, he is merciful, and healing.  He is Lord.  He deserves all or our praises.  “Hosanna!  The Lord saves!”


            So many of us today remain silent about the Lordship of Christ.  We praise human leaders who are arrogant and rude, self-possessed and consumed with their own interests.  And after awhile we forget what and who Christ is altogether and what he stands for.  We begin to embrace the values of this world, its power and oppression, its hatred and harm, its failure in love. And we are diminished for it.


            This past week I was looking for a book on my book shelf in my office when I came upon a book by Jimmy Carter, entitled, Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis, which he wrote in 2005 in response to 9/11 and the significant changes he saw happening in our culture.  I read the inscription on the first page.  Jan had given it to me for Christmas that year, but for some reason I never got around to reading it.  As I think about the times in which we are living I think his book was prophetic then and deserves to be read now.  I’m reading it now.  We are truly in danger in our nation for the loss of our moral and spiritual values.


            Jesus’ first disciples saw it, the different kind of King Jesus is, and the different kind of kingdom he came to bring, with a higher set of values than the kingdoms of this world.  They’re the ones who praise him on that first Palm Sunday as he rides into Jerusalem a different kind of king.  But the religious leaders and the people don’t see it.  They are the ones who will curse him.  They are the ones who will tell his followers to stop praising him.  They don’t want to hear it.  If they did they might have to change their minds and their behaviors and attitudes and actions.  They may have to take up new and different values.  “No, just tell them to stop talking about Jesus.  We don’t want to hear it.”


            Jesus said, “If they went silent, the very stones would cry out!”  The creation itself is in on the quiet revolution of God’s infiltration of this world of darkness with light, a world of hate with love, a world of despair with hope.  The creation will not be silent even if we are.


            But we will not be silent, we who follow Jesus, and we will not be silenced.  We have something to say the world needs to hear.  We have good news for a bad news world.  Why would we be silent?


            Sometimes we feel alone.  Sometimes we are unsure of ourselves.  Sometimes we have doubts that God’s love is that powerful.  Sometimes we are afraid of being set apart as different, and we don’t want to be so obvious; we want to blend in.  Sometimes we just need to know there are others who keep crying out Hosanna while everyone else is screaming the more popular and culturally acceptable Crucify him and his values and moral and spiritual commitments.


            What we need is to know we are not alone, but part of a community of friends, the friends of Jesus and each other.  That is where we gain our strength, and perspective, and the boldness to stand out and speak up.  We need community like they had as Jesus rode into Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday.


            Over the years Jan and I have experienced a variety of expressions of Christian community, always in our worshiping community, but sometimes in a small expression of a gathering of 12 or so, like Jesus’ first disciples.  One of those groups we started in 1988 in New Brunswick, NJ through the UMC there where I was the Associate Minister for Urban Ministry when our daughter Bethany was just three years old, and Dan had not been born.  There were some young adults in our church, recent graduates of college and we invited them to come to our house where we would have a time of eating and fellowship, and Bible study and prayer.  What evolved was a group of about 12 of us, all yearning to know God and follow Jesus, and to be an authentic fresh expression of loving Christian community.  We met weekly for the four years we were there, in each other’s homes.  The group continued after Jan and moved but eventually most of the group moved themselves and the group disbanded.


            A few weeks ago, we received an invitation from one of the group members to a reunion in Cape May, NJ this Palm Sunday weekend.  We obviously couldn’t go for the full weekend but we could go for Friday night and so we did.  I was amazed how close we all felt after nearly 30 years apart.  Those times together had so galvanized our faith in God and love for each other it was as if we had never been apart.  We sang the old songs at the top of our lungs, and we sang the newer songs like we sing here – and everybody knew the new songs, too.  Amazingly, our faith in God had just grown stronger through the years, even through the tough times of life, like the death of one of our members, and the current struggle with cancer of another.


            Yesterday morning before leaving to return home, we decided to have a final time together.  We sang Isaiah 40, which is in our Rejoice and Sing Song book, and then I shared a story of how the group had helped Jan and me and our family during a time of need, and how it had made our faith so strong.  Jan and I then opened up a painful passage in our lives, and our tears began to flow and so did others.  They then opened up the vulnerable and broken places of their own lives.  One of the women said, “I have never experienced this kind of transparency and vulnerability in any group since our times together 30 years ago.” And then she opened her heart and shared about her son coming out as gay, and that this was the first time she had told anyone. Another shared about her pain and concerns for her children. And the bond we had known in Christ 30 years ago was just alive and maybe even deeper now.


            It struck me that here is where we find healing and hope in life.  Not in our strength, but in our vulnerability.  Not in some stallion riding king, but in a humble donkey-riding Lord, surrounded by a motley group of people who love Jesus and each other.  We need each other, and I think we need to make more opportunities here to experience what Jan and I, and our children experienced so many years ago, which formed our Christian faith, and helped keep us strong and close to Christ all these years.  Our Session is committed to doing this important work of small group ministry, and after Easter I intend to help us find our way forward.  We all need such close Christian friends to walk this life’s journey, if we would keep our faith and hope alive.


            The dark nights of the soul come – we can’t stop them – but we don’t have to face them alone. Crucifixion will follow this day, and we will find ourselves at times frightened and alone.  But look around.  We walk this road together.  Some may be silent.  But witnesses will rise up to remind us of this truth: death is always followed by resurrection in Jesus’ kingdom.  That is our hope.  That is what keeps us going on our own roads to Calvary.  The stones will cry out if we don’t.  Thanks be to God.  There will always be a witness.  We have a choice to make today not to be silent in each other’s pain but rather to walk the long road of life’s journey with Jesus and with each other.


            “Hosanna. Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and amongst us. Hosanna!”  The Lord has come to save us all. Together in community as the followers of Jesus Christ, who look upon our dying Lord, and on our own dying, in the hope of the resurrection to come.