Holy Fools

TEXTS:  Philippians 2:5-11, Mark 11:1-11, Mark 14-15

Hosanna! Crucify!

“Hosanna!” ————– “Crucify!”

No Sunday more sharply focuses our choice.
No word more clearly voices our cry than “Hosanna!” or “Crucify!”
The cry of “Hosanna!” and “Crucify!” is fought within all of us.
This Palm and Passion Sunday confronts us with both cries.
Today we are confronted by Jesus.
Today we choose to cry “Hosanna!” or “Crucify!”
Today the gospel removes the blinders from our eyes.
Many Christians try to leap from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday —
with the shouts of “Hosanna!” to Jesus entering Jerusalem to “Christ is risen” of Easter.
That is not a leap of faith; it is loss of faith.
This Sunday more than any Sunday of the Church year makes sure we see Jesus to the cross.

Jesus — triumph or tragedy

Palm and Passion Sunday poses a gut-wrenching juxtaposition for us with Jesus in Jerusalem.
It begins with shouts of “Hosanna!” and ends with shouts of “Crucify!”
Mark’s Gospel is Jesus’ passion with an extended prologue leading up to it
The first 10 chapters tell the story of Jesus’ life and ministry to be sure.
Jesus teaches, heals, debates, confronts, and calls all to come and follow.
They take Jesus to Jerusalem, where powerful people are threatened by truth.
It begins with Jesus’ “Triumphal entry into Jerusalem” in chapter 11.
On Good Friday we will hear the story of Jesus’ last supper, prayer, arrest, trial, crucifixion.
In midday we will walk this story with Jesus in downtown Seattle – from 11:00 to 2:00.
At 6:15 we walk and pray with Jesus being tried and crucified in our neighborhood.
At 7:00 p.m. we sing and pray and hear the whole story of Jesus’ journey to the cross.
Come and enter into one or all of these Good Friday ways of being with Jesus.
All of these are printed in the announcement insert of the worship bulletin for today.
Let these Holy Week encounters with Jesus reveal our cry of “Hosanna” or “Crucify.”

“Hosanna” and “Crucify” summarize two processions with Jesus.
“Hosanna!” is the cry of Jesus procession into Jerusalem as he arrives.
“Crucify!” is the cry of Jesus procession out of Jerusalem as he is led to the cross.
Both processions reveal a truth of Jesus.
Jesus is Sovereign Lord and Savior – the truth of “Hosanna.”
Jesus is Suffering Servant and Sacrificial Victim – the truth of “Crucify.”
Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey or colt not on the stallion of an imperial ruler.
Jesus left Jerusalem to be to be crucified as a threat to imperial rule.
Jesus as Sovereign Lord and Suffering Servant ushers in God’s reign of nonviolent love.
This new reign of God overturns the sacrificial violence and violent rule of the powers.
This is the Passion of Jesus revealed today and this Holy Week in Jesus.

Jesus empties himself — Philippians 2:5-11

Nowhere is Jesus’ Passion more powerfully and poetically proclaimed than in Philippians.
We heard this Word spoken and sung in worship – a great Hymn of the early Church.
This time Paul is not admonishing, instructing, criticizing, or correcting early Christians.
Paul is singing the church’s song of God’s purpose and presence in Christ.
Jesus is God’s self-emptying self-giving love for all people and all creation.
Grasping exploitation and oppression is not the character of God’s divine creativity.
Christ is God’s revelation of unconditional love.

[Read Philippians 2:5-8….]

Why? [Read 2:9-11…]

Imitatio Christi – Imitation of Christ – Fools for Christ

Hear how Paul introduces this great hymn.

[Read 2:1-5……]

Listen to what Paul adds following this great hymn.

[Read 5:12-13…]

Fools for Christ

On the world’s terms or almost anyone’s terms for that matter, it is utter foolishness.
Unconditional love and self-giving service doesn’t go far or gain favor in the world.
It is for fools. Who wants to be a fool for Christ?
It is no April Fools joke that we are called to be Holy Fools for Christ.
Yes, it is difficult and risky to be Holy Fools for Christ.
It helps to hear and see other witnesses – saints across the ages – people like you give witness.
A litany of witnesses presented themselves to me last week. Here are some of them.

Eighteen-year-old Chiara Favorone went to church that Sunday as usual.
But it was not just any Sunday; it was Palm and Passion Sunday.
There would be the procession of Palms in memory of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.
There would be the reading of Jesus’ passion remembering his crucifixion outside Jerusalem.
Following worship there would also be a procession of young women to be blessed.
It was a blessing by the bishop for their future marriage.
All the other young women joined the joyful procession.
Chiara Favorone refused to join the procession that Sunday.
Instead Chiara went out from worship that day to be a Holy Fool for Christ the rest of her life.
In that commitment Chiara joined her friend Francis as a Holy Fool.
The year was 1212. The place was Assisi in Italy.
Eight hundred years ago, Chiara Favorone became Clare of Assisi alongside Francis of Assisi. She began the Poor Clares, the Franciscan sisters (Jon M. Sweeney, NCRonline, March 20, 2012).
She has inspired countless other Fools for Christ.
Clare of Assisi has given witness to Christ for 800 years.

Diana Ortiz was abducted and tortured almost to death in Guatemala in 1989,
thanks to our tax dollars and torture training at the School of the Americas.
Rather than let torture embitter or immobilize her,
Diana founded the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International
to help those who are being crucified with Christ by torture today.
She tells her story in The Blind-fold’s Eye: My Journey from Torture to Truth
(Sojourners, April 2012, p. 10).
Diana Oritz is a Holy Fool giving witness to Christ.

Theologian James Cone’s new book is The Cross and the Lynching Tree.
Cone argues that Christians in this country can best grasp the horror and hope of the crucifixion by looking at the lynching tree (Andrew Wilkes review, Sojourners, March 2012, p. 41).

Cone concludes, “Every time a white mob lynched a black person, they lynched Jesus. The lynching tree is the cross in America. When American Christians realize that they can meet Jesus only in the crucified bodies in our midst, they will encounter the real scandal of the cross” (158).
http://www.beingtc.com/james-cone-cross-lynching-tree-violence (Song: “Strangefruit”)

“The cross and the lynching tree are the two most emotionally charged symbols in the history of the African American community. Both the cross and the lynching tree represent the worst in human beings and at the same time a thirst for life that refuses to let the worst determine our final meaning. While the lynching tree symbolized white power and black death, the cross symbolizes divine power and black life….” (Amazon.com book description).
James Cone is a truth-telling Holy Fool for Christ giving witness to a crucifying history.

Before we dismiss this as long past, this week we are confronted with Christ crucified.
Treyvon Martin, the African American teenager killed in Florida.
Shaima Alawadi, the young Iraqi Muslim mother of 5 bludgeoned to death in California.
A note was left with her bloodied body: “Go back to your country, you terrorist.”
Countless people called immigrants or labeled LGBTQ know the cry “Crucify!”

Then there is the powerful witness to Christ’s crucifixion by the Monks of the Tibhirine.
In war-torn Algeria in March 1996, a militant Islamic group affiliated with Al Qaeda,
kidnapped 7 monks from a Trappist monastery of Tibhirine and beheaded them.
The monks had been in deep discernment knowing the threats and risk of remaining in Algeria.
They chose to remain in their monastery in love and solidarity with Algerian people and Jesus.
The journal of one of the monks, found after his death, was a letter of love to his “crucifier.”
If the day comes, and it could be today, that I am victim of the terrorism that seems to be engulfing all foreigners living in Algeria, I would like my community, my Church, and my family to remember that I have dedicated my life to God and Algeria. That they accept that the Lord of life was not a stranger to this savage kind of departure; that they pray for me, wondering how I found myself worthy of such a sacrifice; that they link in their memory this death of mine with all the other deaths, equally violent but forgotten in their anonymity. My life is not worth more than any other….Nor am I an innocent child. I have lived long enough to know that I, too, am an accomplice of the evil that seems to prevail in the world around, even that which might lash out blindly at me. If the moment comes, I would hope I have the presence of mind, and the time, to ask for God’s pardon and for that of my fellowman, and at the same time, to pardon in all sincerity he who would attack me….And to you, my friend of the last moment, who will not know what you are doing. Yes, for you too, I wish this thank you, this “A-Dieu,” whose image is in you also, that we may meet in heaven, like happy thieves, if it pleases God, our common Father. Amen! Insha Allah (John W. Kiser, The Monks of the Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria, 245-46).
What Holy Fools – this monk and 6 others who have been crucified and risen with Christ!

On this Sunday, with Jesus going in and out of Jerusalem in a hail of “Hosanna” and “Crucify”, there is good news – the gospel of Jesus Christ is alive in Holy Fools giving witness to Christ.
The good news is that in the frailty and fallibility of our lives and the confusion of our cries of “Hosanna” and “Crucify”, we can be and are Fools for Christ – who is God’s true wisdom.
This is no April Fools joke. This is The Way of Jesus Christ who is our peace.
Our “act of response” poses this choice for us – a particular choice we face today.
It is a choice that challenges how easy it is to “pray for peace and pay for war.”
On this April Fools Day, Palm-Passion Sunday with Jesus entering Jerusalem and Holy Week,
a week before Easter and two weeks before Tax Day we take a symbolic “special tax offering.”
David Ortman will explain it and begin with a story of Mennonite Fools for Christ in Colombia.