Fr David's Sermon for Palm Sunday

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.”

Last week we thought about the importance for our lives as Christians of both contemplation and action. One should flow from the other, but both are essential to the health of our relationship with God.

Lent has been a time for reflection and contemplation, and that is especially true of the week ahead of us: Holy Week requires of us to be still, to come to the foot of the cross, and be present to Jesus.

It is too easy to rush straight from the joy of Palm Sunday to the joy of Easter Sunday and bypass the anguish and suffering of Christ, that teaches us of his love for us, his love for the world, and invites us to share in that love and to share in his sufferings for love’s sake.

Action built only on the joy of Hosannas, or the other “H” word we will say again next week, will never enter into the depths of the need of those around us, nor have the strength of action built on knowledge of God’s passion for us. This week we are invited to stop, to be still, to enter as fully as we can into the events remembered and the services offered to help us do that, in order that we might be renewed in our experience of God’s love for us and for the world.

Last year Easter felt bleak, and this year it still won’t be what we’d hoped for, but we move towards it with hope, and a longing for renewed life. Looking ahead to the coming months we await the renewal of our shared life as a church community. Taking time this week to contemplate the Passion of Christ will not only mean that we feel the joy of Easter even more when it comes, but it will give us the best chance of renewing our passion for God, for the Church and for the world around us. Passion that will hopefully spark and fuel an active response, as we seek to put it into practice.

Lent marks out for us the 40 days Christ spent in the wilderness. Following his baptism, submerged in water, Christ found himself in the heat and thirst of the desert. This last year has been for so many a desert place. In the solitude many have found new knowledge of themselves, new confidence in God’s strength, but many too have experienced the temptation of despair, many have experienced tragic grief and loss, loneliness and isolation.

Holy Week invites us to rest in God, to enter more deeply into God’s presence, and to find refreshment. The text I quoted at the beginning of this sermon wasn’t from any of today’s readings, but it sums up the invitation before us:

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.”

We are invited to journey with Jesus and find in him living water.

As we journey from the triumphal entry today, and from the shouts of Hosanna on our own lips, to the shouts of Crucify, we find the man carrying the water jar, and follow him to the upper room, where Jesus kneels to wash our feet and feeds us, before we journey with him to his trial, and see Pilate wash his hands of responsibility, then on to the cross, where we stand helplessly looking on as Jesus’ side is pierced, and blood and water flow.

Each of us who are baptised into Christ, knows the importance of water for life. If we wish to be alive and active, as Christians, as a church, then we need the water of life.

We are told in scripture that throughout his ministry, Jesus withdrew to pray, to be on his own with God, to find rest and refreshment.

This week, like none other, we are invited to journey with him. There are many ways we can do so: From the side-lines, looking on at a distance, ponderously; up close, examining things analytically; actively putting ourselves at the centre, shouting the shouts, running from the garden, clambering for attention.

This week I invite you to come gently, to be by Christ’s side, and rest in his presence, like the beloved disciple reclined on Jesus’ breast at the last supper; to be refreshed by him who gives his very self for our healing.

It will soon enough be time for action, but our action will be misdirected, mistaken or short lived if we don’t allow Christ to first quench our thirst, renew our strength, pour out his love upon us and inspire us to love.

God’s love demands a response that’s deeper than that of a fickle crowd shouting Hosanna one minute and crucify the next. It calls us to deep, heartfelt action.

Holy Week urges us to first open our hearts to Christ, the living water who refreshes and renews us. For only in knowing the love that flowed for us as blood and water from Jesus’ side, can we hope to share Christ’s love for others, and to put that love into action in service of those thirsty for love and hope, and a world gasping for water.




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