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Passion Sunday, Year C
South Sydney Uniting Church
March 28, 2010

Isaiah 50:4-9a; Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 22:14-23:56

Holy passion’

Passion Sunday is an ancient liturgical celebration – older than Palm Sunday (which may also be celebrated this first Sunday in Holy Week). Passion Sunday is a contemplative celebration dating back to the fourth century. We hear the passion narrative (this year, from Luke’s Gospel) and we walk in Spirit that difficult road that Jesus took to the cross. I don’t want to say much today. Simply that the word “passion” is a word rich in meaning. “Passion” (from the Latin verb patior, meaning to suffer or to endure, also related to compatible) is an emotion applied to a very strong feeling about a person, subject, idea or thing. It’s not simply about suffering (as an artwork like Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ might lead us to believe), but also a positive affinity – an enduring love – for a person, subject, idea or thing. A person is a passionate supporter of a football team, or a passionate socialist, environmentalist, liturgist.

Our passions reveal who we are, and whose we are.

Recalling our themes over the past weeks in Lent, we might say that a holy passion, the passion of God, has to do with learning to be brave – learning to resist harmful theories that purport merely to explain suffering (Lent 1).

The passion of God has to do with a discipleship that leads us away from victimhood and towards an adult acceptance of vulnerability; a discipleship that leads us away from the need to rescue and control others, and towards an adult responsiveness and respons-ibility; a discipleship that takes us away from persecuting, punishing attitudes and actions, and towards an adult – a more wise – perceptiveness that shares and invites concern for peace with justice (Lent 2).

The passion of God has to do with maintaining a humble regard for complexity and mystery – a “no” to prosperity gospel spoken without malice or self-righteousness (Lent 3).

The passion of God has to do with a celebration of love and life as we Christians know that in and through Jesus the Jew. We celebrate a new covenant/testament, a renewed relationship with God and promise of God’s peace as we know that in and through Jesus the Jew (Lent 4).

And the passion of God has to do with attending, lavishly, to the One who represents for us all the victims of the callousness and greed of this violent world. I keep thinking of Heather’s example of ASCA choosing to use high-quality blue ribbon to honour the lives of adult survivors of child abuse (Lent 5).

What are you most passionate about? Today we have “little flames” as symbols for passion, and are invited to place them on a “road” across the altar-table as we share our passions for good which we connect with the journey of Christ.
... Amen.