Sermon: Palm Sunday, Year C

Palm Sunday – Blesséd be your name (Matt & Beth Redman)

In the name of the +Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

An extra hymn! In Lent! In Holy Week no less!

A hymn unknown to some, but to others instantly recognisable as the theme tune to Blesséd, our very own alt.worship community.

This Holy Week, I propose to use the themes suggested not only by Holy Scripture, but to lay them alongside the lyrics of a number of evangelical (largely), modern choruses as a way of tapping into this most Catholic, Sacramental of weeks; and applying the signs and symbols of these worship songs to the passion and the resurrection in what I hope will be new insights.

“Blesséd be your name” echoes the clamour of the crowd gathered on Palm Sunday. The joy and celebration, the sense of triumph in the portent that the real king, the Messiah, the long awaited anointed one of God was truly upon them. In its upbeat tone it speaks of the power of God, Creator and Sustainer of All.

And yet, that triumph comes at a price. It is no mistake that the Passion Gospel of Luke that we have heard right through leads us through Holy Week as a sign of that counterpoint, that challenge, that apparent defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

In the same way, the writer of this song, speaks in the more challenging second verse of “the road marked with suffering… where there’s pain in the offering” and the wilderness that surely we will walk through, and seeing that God is to be praised and worshipped even at the foot of the cross, in fact God is to be praised and worshipped exactly at the foot of the cross.

As the bridge of the song notes “You give and take away” – for not all of our lives will be rich, abundant, plentiful or easy. To think it might be so is to collude with the fairytale view of faith and the airbrushed simplicity of the prosperity Gospel. It is the same view which the crowds on Palm Sunday showed when they believed that the Messiah would come with military might to eject the Romans, and establish a secular dominant power in Jerusalem once more. It was a fantasy, and a misreading of the Scriptures and the Humble King who entered Jerusalem.

There is, and there will continue to be brokenness in our lives, in our relationships, in our health; and yet it is this brokenness which is supported, lifted up and redeemed on the Cross in this most holy of weeks.

In one of our Blesséd Meditations, where bitter lemons and sweet honey are tasted, we recall

In Happy moments, praise God.
In Difficult moments, seek God.
In Quiet moments, worship God.
In Painful moments, trust God.
In Every moment, thank God

And he will restore you.

Whether you enter this Holy Week with joy or with pain, there is a journey to be undertaken and each step of the way, it will be the King of Kings with us, whether on our Donkeys of triumph or our crosses of pain.

Through all this, we are drawn to cry “Blesséd be your name”