Summary: This sermon deals with the effect that Jesus’ cross had on three men: Simon the Cyrene, John the Apostle and Nicodemus, the quiet follower.

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Palm Sunday 2009 – Communion Sunday

I grew up in a fairly sheltered environment. Other than books at school I remember little, if any, interaction with anyone of another culture.

My first encounter with a different culture was a kid I met at school. I don’t remember his name, but his parents were migrant farm workers traveling through Bakersfield. He looked different, sounded different, and for this sheltered little white kid, was different enough to be cool. (I don’t think we even used that term back then.)

I remember the day he and I were walking down the road and some bigger kids came along and started giving us some trouble. My friend, who was about six inches shorted than me (and I wasn’t that tall) and about 30 pounds lighter (and I wasn’t that big), my friend reached down to the side of the road and picked up an empty beer bottle. He held the neck of the bottle in his hand, then reached down, whacked it so that it broke with the sharp neck still in his hands. Then he looked at the big bullies and said something like, “Ok, who’s first?”

The little terrorists ran away; my friend tossed the broken bottle and just started walking again. I remember thinking…”WOW!” Not much more, just “WOW!”. That kid was from a different world than I was, a different culture, and I was glad at that moment that he was on my side!

I’m sure there were more, but the next experience with “culture” came in college. I attended a small Bible college filled with a bunch of white kids. The first summer there I traveled in a singing group and we crossed the border into Canada to sing at a church. These folks were as white as we were. Side by side, we looked the same; we all spoke English, but they were really different! They used their words differently. Their food was different. Their pace of life was much slower than ours. They were foreigners! Wait, we were the foreigners, I guess. For all that we had in common, it was a very different culture.

Before we moved here to start ChurchForFamily, we lived in a small town of about 5,000 people surrounded by mountains and winding two-lane highways. It was a hour-and-a-half to the closest Starbucks if that tells you anything. We moved there from the Napa Valley. Napa was the fancy wine-country. It was cool and hip to live in Napa. We attended a big, beautiful church. I worked at a Naval Shipyard with over 10,000 people employed. Moving to such a place was like stepping into a twenty-year time warp. I felt like I had moved to “Mayberry”; I didn’t know if I was Andy or Barney Phife! I loved living there, but talk about a culture shock!

I bet you’ve experienced culture shock as well!

Ever gone to a new ethnic restaurant and ordered something? Terrie ordered “sweet-breads” one time at a French restaurant. It wasn’t bread! Culture shock!

Those of us who are married…culture shock! Right? I mean, no matter how well we thought we knew our spouse and their family - they talk different, their humor is different, cooking is different - culture shock!

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