Summary: In Covid-19 lockdown, life is all about NOT being in crowds, how can we celebrate Palm Sunday
This is the day …
“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Well, I don’t know about you, but it feels more like “how shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land”. That’s from Psalm 137:4 and was the Jews response to being exiled to Babylon.
Let US rejoice, how can WE sing – It’s always about groups or crowds – do you remember what they are?
Crowds have there own mood
Our NT reading is about crowds. Crowds have a nature all their own.
- Atlanta Soccer – party
Time before last when I was in America we went to see Atlanta United play soccer (that’s football to you and I). The crowds there are VERY friendly. They arrive early, they play ball games in the car park, and eat their picnics, it’s a wonderful day out.
- Ipswich Town – edgy
When I occasionally visit Ipswich Town, the crowds there are friendly too, but for some visiting teams there is a bit more of an edgy feel. We’ve seen crowds turn and the violence that causes and we’re getting to that edge.
- Poll Tax Riots
In the 1980’s as Jo and I walked through the Poll Tax riots to a company function we certainly felt the edge, it was quite a frightening experience. The crowds were friendly with each other but suspicious of outsiders.
Crowd around Jesus has found its King
The crowd around Jesus had found their king. They were headed to Jerusalem cheering and praising God, making lots of noise. So far it was a friendly crowd.
‘stirred up'- Who is this man (Jesus)?
As they entered the city it says that the visiting crowds were stirred up and were asking “Who is this man? Presumably once they found out they joined the celebrations.
They have expectations
The crowds were expecting certain things to happen, when Jesus and the crowd finally got into the city those things didn’t happen and they were disappointed.
We have expectations too
We have expectations too – we were supposed to be parading round the church with palms or whatever green branches are available, having a great celebration. We are disappointed too.
We’re going to be even more disappointed next week when we can’t take communion on Easter Day.
New ways to stay connected
We will have to find new ways to stay connected.
In a sense we are fortunate – all of us, because we have technology that at least lets us see other people’s faces and hear their voices. In past times this sort of isolation would have been so much more difficult.
Bishop and spiritual communion
Bishop Stephen has proposed that we use a service of Spiritual Communion. He talks about the Woman who reached out to Jesus and touched His cloths. She wasn’t practising social isolation, and we can’t even get that close.
Holy spirit and connectivity John 15:4 & 5
Frankly I was disappointed by his response. I would have expected him to talk about the connection we have to God through the Holy Spirit. In John 15:4 & 5 Jesus says ‘If you remain in me, I will remain in you.
He says it twice, just to make sure they get it.
- bucket in ocean
How can we be in God and He in us. Think of a bucket in the ocean, perhaps a leaky bucket. The bucket is in the ocean and the ocean is in the bucket, but remove the bucket from the ocean and the ocean soon leave the leaky bucket.
Close Connection to God
The point is that we have the most intimate possible connection to God, and we should use this time of isolation to improve that connection. That is partly what Lent is about anyway.
Know the end of the story
We can have this connection because of how the story ends. We know the end. The following day the crowd turned on Jesus, because He had disappointed them. As a result he was crucified, just as He planned.
Because of His death our sins are forgiven and we can be properly connected to God, just as He planned.
Nothing separates us from God
His resurrection proves that. Now we know that we are safe in His hands. Whatever may come from this pandemic, nothing, neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
That’s how we rejoice
“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”