This past week Minnesota United Methodists gathered for our Annual Conference. It is a reunion and a marathon of meetings and always Annual Conference stokes my desire for fruitful ministry to a fever pitch. I serve a church pregnant with possibility and sometimes being patient is teeth gnash.

This year’s conference, like those preceding it, was marked by a speaking of how it is the larger church is so very wounded.

There are some eighty clergy in the conference (myself included), and over 1,000 across the United States who have signed a document stating that we will joyfully offer services of marriage to same sex couples. In Minnesota, it is now legal! And, this offering of grace routine to heterosexual couples is against the polity of our church. Persons violating said polity can be disciplined for facilitating the speaking of love and covenant.

I feel such grief. I feel grief for the judicatories in our system who are tasked with upholding policies they may not agree with. We are compatriots in the preaching of the good news of the nothing-can-seperate-us-from-the love of God in Christ Jesus. And, there may soon come a day when polity trumps grace and preachers are exiled by their kin in Christ. Surely God weeps.

I feel such grief because the expanse of grace opened to us by Jesus seems so jealously guarded by fear and surely, God weeps.

I feel such grief because this mother is watching her children and their compatriots turn from the Body of Christ known as the United Methodist movement. They cannot understand a denomination that barricades from some the very grace said to be offered to all.

I feel such grief because there is so much work calling to the people of Jesus: poverty and racism and ecological devastation and the people of Jesus are called to respond and heal and bless and while we natter on about who it is who ought be united in marriage by our pastors, the world continues to be wounded and about this I know God weeps.

I’m a United Methodist pastor. While my church is pregnant with possibility it so very challenged by its being as a United Methodist Church. We are a people meant to welcome Spirit breath and life transformation. We want to live in the way of Jesus.

May the God who weeps hold us in this time.

Palm Sunday now

The story of Jesus is not some long-ago drama we come to church to hear.

 

The story of Jesus is NOW.

 

All of the things that Jesus did and taught and longed for us to know with our whole lives.

 

Those things are NOW.

 

And the wild hope of Hosanna and the brutal chill of silence as lives are hung on a cross and left to die.

 

Those things are now too.

 

Jesus rides into Jerusalem yet.

 

Jesus rides in on the back of a humble beast meant to remind us that the way of power used by the world is not the way of God.

 

Jesus rides into the halls of power yet and the hopeful raise their song yet and Palm Sunday is now.

 

It is now.

 

Palm Sunday is now while the legislature of our state is in session hearing the cries of the hopeful – save us! – as housing for homeless and marriage for same-sex couples and health care for the poor and adequate education for our children are tussled over in the halls of power and Jesus rides into schools where bullying is being addressed and Jesus rides into nations grappling with how to deal with violence that mangles the souls of women.

 

Palm Sunday is now.

 

On Palm Sunday we acknowledge that Jesus is riding toward the cross.

 

The cross: the place where the passion of love hangs in agony as the wounds borne by those who work with their lives to overcome hatred and injustice are hammered time and time and time again.

 

The cross is the price of hope and loving:  tell me that is not so.

 

It was and it is and Jesus teaches us that we must be willing to know the pain of the cross.

 

It is our own.

 

The cross, as theologian Dorthee Soelle names it, is the world’s answer, given a thousand times over, to attempts at liberation.

 

In long ago Jerusalem, Jesus rode into the streets to the cheers of his hopeful followers.

 

He knew that the audacity of his message – that we are to love God with all our hearts and minds and imaginations and our neighbor as our very selves – he knew that such teaching was going to challenge those who made money and wielded power through cultivating a world where money and privilege were enjoyed by the few when the needs of the non-elite were deemed a non-issue.

 

Jesus knew that liberating the poor and the marginalized from the grinding injustice that kept them invisible and powerless could not be allowed to be imagined in the hearts of others.

 

He knew keeping people cowed and poor kept the privileged in power.  He knew.

 

And yet he got onto the back of that donkey and rode toward the cross.

 

The cross.

 

The place that waits for all who dare to love.

 

Come, you that love the Lord.

 

Allow yourself to feel and feel deeply.

 

Allow yourself to be swept into the hope in Christ Jesus that swells your heart with Hallelujah and shout it shout it shout it and follow it to the place where God calls you to witness for justice – in your school and in your work place and in your community and in your nation and in your home – and allow yourself to feel the pain of loving because through the present power of Christ Jesus – through the NOW of Christ Jesus – you are no stone.

 

You are a called disciple of Jesus. You are walking love and you will not let hatred and indifference to the pain of others numb your heart.

 

Oh, that we would ride into the Jerusalem that awaits us each.

 

Palm Sunday is now.  Jesus rides with us yet.

 

Amen