Sunday, March 20, 2016

20 March 2016 - Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord: So this is how we are disciples

“So this is how we are disciples”
Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord C
Philippians 2:5-11 / Luke 23:1-49
20 March 2016


We’ve spent these past weeks in the Season of Lent, focusing on what it means to follow Jesus – namely, taking square-on that churchy buzzword, that word that some of us like, some of us don’t, but many of us don’t know what to do with it, what it means for us, what it means we should be about …

DISCIPLESHIP.

We’ve looked at seven Marks of Discipleship, seven descriptors, guides for our lives:

Pray frequently
Worship regularly
Study scripture diligently
Give freely
Invite others often / Pass on the faith
Serve for the sake of others both in and beyond the congregation

But of course, those Marks, they could be said about many faiths, many “religions,” many way of life which attract disciples, followers …
And so the frame through which we approach, see, receive these Marks is one which is not culturally or personally popular – most especially, in these days of hubris and bluster, ego and eccentricity, the non-apology apology …

SUBMISSION.

Submission.  God is God, we are not, and we begin and re-begin and re-re-begin … our journey of faith, our discipleship life, here … with submission to God, by entering into discipleship … following Jesus … in a posture of repentance. 
We are called to live with the idea that we could be, we can be, we often are, wrong. 
We, like the prodigal son, are called to acknowledge our lostness through repentance.  Repentance which brings us back together, in Christ, with each other, the place when, where, discipleship – following Jesus – truly begins.
We, like the unbearing fig tree, submit to the good Gardener’s tending and care, feeding us with the stuff of faith, so we can bear good fruit.
Then, then … everything that follows submission, repentance … THAT’s discipleship.  Following Jesus.  Shown, lived out, in those seven ways:

Pray frequently
Worship regularly
Study scripture diligently
Give freely
Invite others often / Pass on the faith
Serve for the sake of others both in and beyond the congregation

But that was the Season of Lent.
Today we’ve turned a corner.  It’s not really Lent any more. 
It is Holy Week – the days when we re-hearse … re-hear, re-enact … those final days in Jesus’ life.  Those days when everything came together, for him, for them … then; for us, now.  These days which are the ultimate days for the sake of this world God gives, loves and saves through Jesus.
Yet it’s not Easter yet – and this day, it shows the tension between the two.  That’s why we call it the Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord.  Because we start out with the palms and hosannas and praise, the glory and the honor due a King.
But soon enough we end up with the Cross.  And the inscription over Jesus’ head, bloody with irony, “This is the King of the Jews.”
So what do we do with all this?  This Lent-become-Holy Week … this focus on discipleship, now at the foot of the Cross?
Well, that’s precisely it.
Because the Marks of Discipleship – as we follow Jesus’ call into them - beginning with submission … the posture of repentance … and then following the marks as our response to Jesus’ call to us … well, that is where we will end up, too.
At the foot of the Cross.
Because being a disciple, following Jesus, is, ultimately, about death.
Each of those marks, as we sink into them, live into them, lose ourselves more and more in them, we will die.  Die to the me, the I, the it’s all about what I want and I don’t even care to hear what you or anyone else need.  Discipleship means death.  Death to that.
It is, indeed, true, what Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, in The Cost of Discipleship:
Those who enter into discipleship enter into Jesus’ death.  They turn their living into dying; such has been the case from the very beginning.  The cross is not the terrible end of a pious, happy life.  Instead, it stands at the beginning of community with Jesus Christ.  Whenever Christ calls us, his call leads us to death.

Death to self.  Death to hubris.  Death to me first and you last. 
Literally, death to death.
Just as – and in – the Cross of this Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord.
Death.  And then … life to come.  The Life of Discipleship … which is everything then, that follows Jesus’ call to us, after we confess and are forgiven … as we come, and eat and drink at his invitation, at his table … as we are formed into Jesus’ body, his people, in the world … to show, and live into the world another way of life … The Way of Life … as we

Pray frequently
Worship regularly
Study scripture diligently
Give freely
Invite others often / Pass on the faith
Serve for the sake of others both in and beyond the congregation

Die there, disciples.  And Live.  Live.  There.  Disciples.

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