Fifth Sunday of Lent – Passion Sunday
Sunday 21st March 2021
Although we have been able to resume public worship not everyone is able to attend so the service was recorded and made available online as well as being played in church for those who chose to attend. That can be found here.
Lent 5 – Passion Sunday
Revd Preb Maureen Hobbs
Introduction to the service
Passion Sunday is so called because it is the point in Lent when we stop thinking so much about Jesus’ personal challenge in the desert and his subsequent ministry and turn our thoughts firmly towards the cross and all that awaits him in Jerusalem.
Thank you for joining us today – as we get ever closer to Holy Week and all that happens in the lead up to the glory that is Easter Day, it is inevitable that there will be some dark moments. It isn’t that we are trying to make you miserable – it is just that life deals us these times along with the happier moments. Christians look forward to the joy of Easter morning. But that would not count half as much without the pain and sorrow that comes before. So I make no apology for striking a serious note this morning – but there are lighter moments too!
Later on I hope we will be thinking about our ‘passions’; the things that excite and motivate us in life – you might want to start thinking what your passion or passions might be!
Now while the Passion of Christ really refers to his suffering on the cross, we use the word in different ways today. And I think that Jesus might say he was passionate about helping people find their way to God and realising that God loves them totally and abundantly! And I think that is a wonderful thought …
When you spoke those words about being lifted up from the earth, did you really know what they meant? Did you know the cross was to be your destination?
If you did, then how did you go so calmly to certain death?
Oh, I know you had your wobbly moment. That night in the garden when all your friends were too ‘tired and emotional’ to keep watch with you. When you prayed that the cup might be taken from you – You were wracked with doubt –at least for a while.
But soon the old certainty reasserted itself. Whether it was from the angels hovering around you, or the sight of those sleeping numbskulls; one moment promising to defend you to the death, next moment running for their lives! They must have looked so vulnerable, so trusting as they slept…. and you loved them.
And you love us. You must have done. Felt passionately about humanity. So passionate that you were prepared to die. For us. For me.
I’m afraid that I cannot buy the theory that God needed a blood sacrifice to appease his wrath. That isn’t the sort of God I can believe in – although I know others might…. No, I think your death was the only way to bring us to our senses. To make us understand the depth of your love, your passion – for us. For me.
And what of me? What would I feel so deeply about that I would be prepared to die?
I thank God that I have not – so far – been put to that sort of test. And I guess that it isn’t a question we can answer properly until the moment comes. I would like to think I would stand up for truth, for justice, for love.
Meanwhile I talk about my ‘passions’ – my favourite football team; favourite actor; favourite pop group. I certainly love music and food and meeting up with friends…. I love my bed! But I don’t believe I could or would die for any of that.
Let’s face it Jesus, the true Christ, is the Church’s best kept secret.
We are so afraid of putting people off, those people who just might say, “We would see Jesus,” that we try to tell them what we think they want to hear;
but they don’t know what they want
and we don’t think straight
and we are not supposed to be trying to please other people,
so basically we make a complete mess of the whole thing.
Offering cliche’s instead of truths; baby food instead of food someone could get their teeth into; someone they could respect, something to live and die for…
We use the word ‘passion’ so lightly, so easily. For you it was anything but light, anything but easy. You were on a path – a journey that had only one destination – A Cross on a hill – and for all you knew an unmarked grave in the rubbish dump outside Jerusalem – Gehenna they called it. You were not to know that someone would take care of your poor broken body. Provide a lodging place – even if only a temporary one.
You were going on a journey leading to resurrection glory! We know that now, but did you then? Is that what gave you the strength to follow your passion to the bitter end?