Fr Peter Beck presided and preached. The Gospel reading was Luke's passion narrative.
Read on for the sermon and a video of the service.
Today is Palm Sunday. When we heard the gospel of the entry into Jerusalem it was as if we were standing with Jesus at the gates of Jerusalem, this city of violence and separation. We are being inspired by the hope that we have invested in this man, our yearning for a better way, for an end to oppression. We might be that crowd shouting 'hosanna to the son of David'! Do we realise that once we have entered this city with him, we shall be swept up in events that we cannot control and that will bring us to the very edge of what we can bear, if we will journey with him to Calvary and the tomb, if we will take up our cross and follow him.
Do we realise that in the deep calling forth we make here in this church and in churches around the world day after day after day when we faithfully pray our prayers, that 'your Kingdom come, your will be done', that we are calling ourselves to walk with Jesus through these gates into the great vortex of this violence and confusion in order to be the body of Christ.
We see the violence around us, as Jesus saw the violence around him - not a lot has changed. The script of the passion of Christ is as much the script of today as of 2000 years ago. We know that trying to live by faith and hope and love looks pretty helpless. We know that in our own hearts that so much that fuels the violence of our world is in us too - the need not to lose face, the need to maintain our position, status, wealth, the need to be recognised, noticed, the need to be in with the in crowd somehow, to keep ourselves at one with the group. What evil we will do, or rather good we will not do, in order to keep our heads down, not rock the boat, keep our noses clean, be respectable. How easy it is to pass by on the other side. We know that unless we stay close to Jesus the glad hosannas we are shouting will turn to cries of hatred and denial 'crucify, crucify' come Friday. How easy it is to keep choosing death rather than life! Mea culpa , mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
Jesus does not steer us away from these city gates today, nor sends us back into some holy sanctuary. He keeps us close to him as we stand at what seems to be the gates of hell, and he tells us too that these are the gates of heaven. If we are willing to walk with Jesus into the city, to the cross and the tomb, there is a joy and a mystery at the end of the path, because it is inexhaustible divine love that walks with us.
This week tells us that God is able to change everything about us - our fear, our sin, our guilt, our untruthfulness. (But to receive that change in the actual circumstances of our lives asks of all of us such a revolution in our hearts that we are stunned and frightened at the thought.) To love as he has loved us means letting go of so much that seems to keep us safe, and yet which only gives us half-lives.
At this very moment and at every moment Jesus is offering himself to you and me, and calling us choose the way of life, the way of truth, the way of the cross, the way of resurrection, the way which set us free from all that binds us. Take up your cross and follow me. Lazarus, come forth, he saying to you and me. Unbind him, unbind her he commands. Be free, be alive.
And be not afraid, Take heart, Come with me through this Holy Week. I have overcome the world. I am with you and will never let you face your perils alone.
I invite you to journey with Jesus this Holy Week