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Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.

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Palm Sunday, Year B
South Sydney Uniting Church
March 28, 2021

Mark 11:1-11

‘Passion and Palm’

There’s a small but significant detail in the Orthodox Icon of the Triumphal Entry.

Two children are seated in the foreground, one helping to remove a thorn from the foot of the other. These are children who have climbed the tree to gather palms. The thorns (and, of course, we imagine the crown of thorns too) represent the difficulties on the way that leads from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem; through the wilderness of Christ-like struggle to the New Jerusalem or heaven on earth.

As followers of Jesus and children of God we’ll need to help each other on the way. There will be thorns, dangers, missteps, injuries, as well as times for rest and recovery.

Our affirmation and nomination process – amid real difficulties, anxieties, discomfort – has revealed loving concern, genuine affection. Several entries make note of the congregation as a cherished place of warmth and inclusivity. I paraphrase: Dear everyone, thank you for maintaining South Sydney Uniting Church, a place of welcome and hospitality, a people of courage and strength. Thank you for finding new ways for us to continue, and to connect …

We enter Holy Week with grateful hearts … open to something new both in ourselves and in the parish. Candidates for ministry embody Christ-like passion and triumph.

A journal entry from theologian Dorothee Soelle offers wisdom.

Soelle writes: “... The more we love God, the threatened, endangered, crucified God, the nearer we are to [God], the more endangered we are ourselves. The message of Jesus is that the more you grow in love, the more vulnerable you make yourself. You have fewer securities and weapons. You can be attacked if you become visible or if ‘that which is of God’ shines out in you.

“If you share out your life instead of hoarding it, then the great light will become visible in you. Sometimes that will make you lonely, and you will lose friends, your standard of living, profession, career, but at the same time you will change yourself. In this process the cross, this sign of isolation, of shame, of abandonment, becomes the tree of life without which you cannot exist any more ...

“[I]t is not so crazy to love life so much that we love even the cross as a consequence of saying ‘yes’ to the will of God. Then we know that our love is greater than anything that this world can do to us ... ‘Embracing the cross’ now means growing into resistance. And the cross will become green and blossom” (Thinking About God: An Introduction to Theology). Amen.