29 Mar 2021
“For to us a child is born,to us a son is given;and the government will be upon his shoulder,and his name will be called“Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” - Isaiah 9:7
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus:
First of all, happy Palm Sunday. For the past five weeks, the Christian church has observed the somber season of Lent. Hearts and minds have focused on the tragic events that took place in the life of Jesus circa 29 AD and even though the season of Lent is not over, today, we take a pause and remember the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the “city of peace” with devotion and reverence.
Of the many titles that have been given to our Lord, Jesus Christ, I feel that His title “Prince of Peace” is so appropriate for today. Our country, as well as our entire world, has seen in 2020 and still continues to see in 2021, a virus, that has claimed and still claims so many lives and has touched so many families. Luckily, as people are being vaccinated, there seems to be a little more relief in our world and in country, but the impact of this virus and the feeling of lost continues. Amid this pandemic, we also see so much anger and hatred. In our country alone, we have witnessed again and again, the sadness and senseless mass shootings, that has claimed the lives of innocent people, people like you and me, who happened to be in the “wrong place at the wrong time.” as witnessed recently in Atlanta, Georgia and Boulder, Colorado. We also witness the division and the polarization of our country, due to politics and ideologies. If there was ever a time for “peace” it is now. But sadly, I believe that our country and our world is spiraling out of control. Palm Sunday is a universal call for peace.
Did you know, that in the New Testament, there are only two times where it is recorded that Jesus wept? Each incident took place as Jesus went up to Jerusalem for the last time. The first time was over the death of his friend Lazarus, who had died. The second was over Jerusalem, the “city of peace.”
We read in Luke: “As he approached Jerusalemand saw the city, he wept over it and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace-but now it is hidden from your eyes.”
I am sure that our Lord weeps over the sadness He sees in our world, in our country, and in our communities. He weeps for those who have and choose not to help all those who have not. As a “man of sorrows, I am sure he weeps for the homeless, the hungry, the down-trodden and the rejected. “If we even now, know that on this day, the healing peace that I can provide.” But amid the selfishness,and pride this peace is hidden from their eyes and will be rejectd.
The “Prince of Peace.” Our blessed Lord, on that first Palm Sunday, entered Jerusalem for the last time and was greeted with words of “Hosanna”. So many showed Him that day their love and devotion by laying palms in His path. As we read that, as he entered the Holy city, in peace and humility, he sat on donkey, a simple beast of burden. Do you know that Palm Sunday was the only time that Jesus accepted any form of tribute and in less than one week, this joy would be changed into tragedy.
So many people in the days of Jesus looked for peace as so many of us do today. There was so much hope that first Palm Sunday, only to be dashed by the “powers to be.” And how did the people greet Jesus as they laid palms and even the garments in His path.” “Hosanna to the Son of David.”
Now the very word “Hosanna,” was and is an “expression of adoration, praise, or joy.” In Psalm 118:25, we read of the use of the word “Hosanna”: “Save us now [Hosia na], we beseech You, O Lord: O Lord, we beseech You, send us now prosperity [success]
Now for Christians, around the world, these palm branch represents the peace of the Lord. Today, , welcome Him into our hearts as we receive the symbolic palm branches. Today, the Lord, in return, greets each of us with the words “Peace be unto you.” When we talk of the peace of the Lord, what kind of peace does He bring to us this day? I believe that:
- Jesus brings to us a “peace of tranquility” quietness and safety: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall need nothing else. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me by the still waters, He restores my soul.” - Psalm 23:1-3a
- Jesus brings to us a “peace of assurance” from all disturbances in our world: “Peace I leave you, My peace I give unto you, not as the world can give, but as I give to you. Let not your hearts be trouble and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27
- Jesus brings to us an “peace of comfort:”: “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. “In the world you will have tribulations but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33
- Finally, Jesus gives to each of us respite and peace from our own personal trials: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
I think all of us could use a moment of peace and tranquility, calm and silence from what is taking place in our world, from all that takes place within our communities, from all that is taking place in our families, of all that is taking place within ourselves.
The blessed Palms which many of you will receive today and will take home and share with others is more than just a simple decoration. It is a reminder of the peace that the Lord offers to each one of us. It is also a symbol that represents our love and acceptance of Him as the Prince of Peace. Just as those who gathered in Jerusalem that day welcomed him and laid palms in his path, we also welcome Him today as our Prince of Peace, who gives us even for but a moment, tranquility, deliverance, comfort, and respite.
May we all find within ourselves this Palm Sunday that peace of God, which passes all understanding. Amen.
Rev. Fr. Robert M. Koerber