Sermon April 10, 2022: On Remembering Who We Are in Christ
Updated: Apr 11, 2022
Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna! Save us! Save us! Save us!
Today we hear the echoes of the crowd surrounding Jesus as he entered Jerusalem. Jerusalem was packed with people who had come to celebrate the Passover. Family and friends sharing meals and gossip, catching up on what was new in their lives. It was a joyous and raucous time.
But it was also a time of danger. The Romans were worried. This party had the potential to turn into a riot. The Jews were tired of Roman oppression and uprisings and riots were always just under the surface and a real possibility.
So there were two processions that Passover. The one we celebrate - a beloved Rabbi entering the city as cloaks were thrown down and palms were waved. And then there was the other one. The might of Rome displayed with military might. Tensions were building and the drama was high. We will pick up the story on Good Friday.
Today we revel in the good feelings. Today we will take a closer look at the reading from Philippians. The epistle.
This reading is an ancient hymn, a creedal poem. It is a summation of our baptismal faith and as we begin Holy Week it is a good place to start. It may have been written by Paul, it might not. But Paul and his associates use it to reassure the people of Philippi who were in difficult circumstances. Philippi was an important Roman city. The letter was written late in Paul’s career. Paul’s letter and use of the early Christian hymn affirms faith in Christ Jesus as the incarnation of God.
Paul tells the Philippians “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus”. But what does that mean? What does the mind of Jesus look like in our world of betrayal, ignorance, disbelief and violence?
Paul guides us to wisdom.
“This mind” is a mind set on service, humility, selflessness, sacrifice and obedience.
These are not attributes of the culture that surrounds us. We are more likely to hear that we must look out for ourselves, that we must put ourselves first, that we must elevate ourselves over others. But that is not the mind of Christ.
We want to be formed and re-formed as the mind of Christ. Once we do that we can be as Martin Luther preached - little Christs who are sent to do what we can in a world bent on distancing itself from its creator.
Paul uses the hymn for a very practical purpose, telling the people of Philippi to look to the needs of others, not yourself! And we get the same message. Paul is calling us - calling Christians to their vocation - to have the mind of Christ. Which is a commitment to serving others, with an unwillingness to seek personal gain. Its another reminder of how we are to live together.
How can we have the mind of Christ - as individual Christians and as a congregation and as a Church? What part of our mindset would we have to let go of to have the mind of Christ?
How can we find the courage, strength and resolve to be obedient as Jesus was? How did Jesus find the courage, resolve and strength to be of one mind with God the Father?
How do we learn to fully trust in God’s faithfulness?
Part of Paul’s message to the Philippians is a reminder. Remember who you are. Live as Christians - live as Jesus did. We have been given our vocation - we are to go out in Jesus’ name serving others.
It is important to remember who we are, who we are called to be and what we are called to do. It is important not to become completely preoccupied with ourselves or our challenges or crisis - personal and corporate as a congregation and as a Church.
The mind of Jesus was one that focussed on building up others and that is our true vocation - to build up others, not tear them down.
These verses, this ancient hymn calls us to remember who we are, who Jesus was and what we must be, obedient servants. Today we confess together that Jesus is Lord to the Glory of the Father. Today - on Palm Sunday we do not focus on what we believe about Jesus. Today we focus on what he did and what we are able to do because he did.