Palm Sunday Message from Pastor Chelsea

As we prepared for Street Church yesterday, I held my breath as the rain down-poured down on Princess Anne St. It was an hour before set-up and I was bugging my friends at Fredericksburg Baptist (Thank you, Larry & Patti!) who always make sure I always have what I need for the upcoming service (even if it is an hour before their own service…). This week they helped this “rag-tag” novice church planter to acquire all the sacred props needed for a “proper” palm-passion Sunday.

Palms: Check!
Instructions on how to make palm crosses: Check!

Large Cross for our altar and a black cloth to drape for the “passion” narrative: Check!

If there is anything that I have learned from being the Chaplain appointed and called to serve our ecumenical community is that together we have everything we need through our community. Even if we have to piecemeal it together each week, our altar is always a beautiful and eclectic representation of the body of Christ and all of our beautiful traditions put together at one holy table.

I left the church with my hands and my car full, as the rain poured down. It looked as though our parade of palms and singing “Hosanna!” may have to wait another year since we couldn’t sing inside. Then, suddenly, the rain cleared just in time (a miracle!) allowing us to set up outside in the foggy mist between two storms. Somehow, it felt like a very appropriate atmosphere for a palm-passion narrative. We prepared for the parade of “Hosannas!” and sensed the uneasiness of not knowing what was to come….

As we read the text from the lectionary together, we were reminded of the two parades that were happening during the festival of Passover in Jerusalem all those years ago. One, a parade of pomp and circumstance for Pontius Pilate who had come to the city as a show of force to ensure those in the Jewish community celebrating the deliverance of their ancestors from Egypt wouldn’t get any “ideas” of rebelling again. It was a political show of force. A parade meant to display power and hierarchy announcing who was in charge.

On the other side of town, Jesus, the true Messiah, enters into the city with a rag-tag group of disciples who truly have no idea about the events that are about to unfold. Instead of banners, people are waving palm branches from trees, whatever they could find, to cry out “Hosanna” (Hebrew translation: “save us!”). Instead of rolling out carpet, people put down their worn cloaks; again, whatever they had, while crying out “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” We asked the question, which parade would we have been a part of, if we were to relive this moment? Which parade do we choose to follow, still today?

The One who came into the world without trumpets, who was born in the dark, and who would make an entrance for his execution on a donkey, left this world in the same way he was birthed in: unassuming, without the pomp or circumstance the “prince of peace” truly deserved.

At Street Church we can often feel like the rag-tag humble bunch who are called to follow Jesus. Despite our piece-mealed altars and traditional mis-steps, we have been called out of the boat to take a new path. We are called to follow Jesus, no matter where the road may take us, even if it takes us to the cross on Calvary. While we do not have the glorious fixtures or the stained glass windows, God has blessed this community with faithful group disciples who continue to support, show up and do the mundane, yet miraculous tasks, that honors what the Lord has required of us: to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8).

Together, for our first Palm-Passion service, we got to teach our neighbors about the story of following Jesus and taking the road that may not always be easy. Inevitably, we will follow the wrong path and end up betraying Jesus just like his disciples when the road got too hard. Yet, Jesus died for the deserters, anyway. We are just as much a part of the story when we follow him, as we are when we betray him. The cup of salvation was poured out for us, despite our human condition to run away.

On our first Palm Sunday we are grateful that it did not in fact rain on our parade. Instead we got a sprinkle towards the end of our service to “remember our baptism” and to be thankful for the road ahead. Even the road that led to the ultimate sacrifice made on that day, for all of Jesus’ rag-tag bunch of disciples, and beyond. Thanks be to God.

Our guest Caitlyn Levis, a young adult volunteer from the Methodist Church taught us how to fold our palm branches into crosses during our offering/reflection time.

crosses made by our neighbors

Thanks be to God for Jillian Levis who brought us breakfast this morning from the Methodist Church!

Grateful for Chris Ryder who continues to bless us with his gift of music from the Baptist Church!

Thankful for Josiah Goldhart, staff member at Micah from the Goodwill, who helps our neighbors with our Bridge-to-work program as well as our job search/income development group, played guitar and sang with us this past Sunday and was found helping our newly housed neighbor, Marvin, get a phone interview scheduled for Wegmans while he was at Church!

Thank you for all the ways you continue to show up for our community. May you draw closer to the One who calls us beloved as we journey closer to the cross this blessed holy week.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Chelsea