Men’s Palm Sunday Service and Breakfast

Men’s Palm Sunday Service and Breakfast
April 14, 2019
7 am
at Rockville Untied Methodist Church
$5 per person

Pastor David Martin will lead the communion service.

The Women of RUMC will cook and serve the breakfast.
Hosted by Rockville UMC, Manchester UMC, and Bolton UMC

Please call or email your reservation:|
860-875-6562 or [email protected]

 

 

Sermon: Palm Sunday 2018

Palm Sunday 2018
Mark 11:1-11
RUMC
25 March 2018

On December 4, 1977, the world witnessed the coronation of his Imperial Majesty, King Jean Bedel Bokassa I of the former Central African Republic.  The price tag for this very poor African country was a whopping $25 million dollars.  At precisely at 10:10AM, the procession started with the blast of trumpets and drum rolls.  The first to walk down the red carpet was eight of the king’s twenty-nine children.  They were followed by the heir to the throne, the king’s eldest son; Jean Bedel-Bokassa II who was dressed in a white admiral’s uniform.  Queen Catherine, the favorite of the king’s nine wives, was next in line.  She wore a $73,000 gown laced with pearls.  Now when the selected family was in place, the king arrived in his imperial carriage drawn by six majestic horses.  As the Marine Band played “The Sacred March of His Majesty” the king walked down the red carpet where he was cloaked in a thirty-two pound royal robe that was embroidered in gold and pearls.  As he sat on his $2 ½ million dollar eagle throne, the golden crown worth millions of dollars was placed on his head.  But this was all for naught, because the king was deposed a couple of years later.

Today’s scripture text is also about a procession, but it was not as pompous as the one I described above.  Jesus’ triumphal entry was more significant in that it started the events that resulted in our Christian faith, where it has changed the lives of countless numbers of people down through the ages.  And when we keep Christ’s word in our hearts, praise him with our lips and our lives all during the week, we truly honor him.

My text is Mark 11:11-11.
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5 some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9 Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”  11Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

The first Palm Sunday procession really marked what we know as the beginning of the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

  • It culminated in his death.
  • And his death led to the resurrection.
  • And his resurrection led to his ascension.
  • And his ascension led to a spiritual kingdom.
  • And someday he will take his rightful place as the King of Kings.

But on this first Palm Sunday, Jesus’ choice of transportation was a young donkey.  In Biblical times, the donkey served as a symbol of peace.  For instance, if a country were at war, ambassadors would travel on that particular animal to a certain location and work out a peace treaty.  On the other hand, victorious kings and generals would enter the conquered city on a majestic horse.

As modern day disciples, most of us know the Palm Sunday story, but there is a question that needs to be asked.  Has Jesus received a welcome or a hosanna in your life?  Is he truly the king of your heart?

As people of faith, we are wired to worship, which is really an innate longing to connect with God.  John 4:24 tells us, “God is spirit and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”  Psalm 103:1- “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.”

At our Sunday morning church service, we try to sing praises to God and thank Him for his blessings.  But what about the rest of the week?  What about when we are in the car, or at home, or on the way to appointments?  Do we honor and thank Him or at least think of Him?

I would like to bring to your attention a person whose life was the epitome of prayer, praise and worship.  He was Nicolas Hermann who lived a long time ago in the country of France.  When he was older, he entered a monastery in Paris where he changed his name to Brother Lawrence.  Now Brother Lawrence was an unusual monk.  He didn’t care for theology or long prayers.  He had difficulty following theological discussions and was usually bored with all of that, but he felt very much at home in the kitchen.  And it was while he cooked or washed pots and pans that Lawrence would have conversations where he would praise and thank the Lord.  This may sound odd for a monk, but Lawrence was concerned with knowing God, not trying to understand the complexities of theology or the deep mysteries of the Bible.

Though Lawrence has been gone a long time, he does teach us that worship can be done anywhere and anytime.  It doesn’t always have to be in a church.

Here are some meaningful quotes:

  • Worship means to feel in the heart.
  • Without the worship of the heart, liturgical prayer becomes formal routine. ~Aelred Graham. 

Palm Sunday is about how we honor and praise God.  When we receive this palm, which is in the shape of a cross, think of it as a symbol of Christ’s victory over death and how we are to honor him in our hearts.

I have some thoughts on how we can do that.

  • Try to speak non-memorized prayers from the heart like Brother Lawrence did in the kitchen. Have a conversation with God.  For example:
    “Dear God, it is nice you are here today and taking this time to listen to what I have to say.”
    “Jesus, as I drive down this highway, I need to talk about some things that bother me”.
    “God in heaven, I have not lived the way I am supposed to, but would you hear what I have to say.”
  • Another thing we can do to improve our worship is find a place at home to be your place of prayer.
    My favorite spot is in the living room where I take out a small cross and set it on a table.  You may want to light a candle or have an empty chair as an invitation for Jesus to sit in.
  • Borrow a Hymn book from our library. Read some of the hymns and use it as your devotional.  It would truly bless your heart.
  • Take this palm home and put it in a place as a reminder to honor the Lord with your prayers and your life. Let it be a reminder as a Christian that you can do small and helpful things for others, as your life honors the Lord.

Let me close.  Earlier I had spoken about King Bokassa’s pompous coronation ceremony, but it is Christ’s legacy that continues.

May this Palm be a reminder that we are to honor and praise the Lord.

  • Here at church
  • In our homes.
  • In our schools.
  • In our place of employment.
  • In all the places we frequent.

May God help us this week as we honor and praise the Lord.

Sermon: A Grand Parade

A Grand Parade
Mark 11:1-11
RUMC 9 April 2017

All my life I’ve enjoyed marching in parades—the high school marching band, in the military and even riding on church floats—I enjoyed them all. Most recently I participated in the Torchlight parade that featured the Ellington Fire Department in December, 2016.  It was a nighttime event and all the fire trucks were decorated with bright lights.  Those of us who didn’t ride the half mile from the library to the fire station walked in at least 30 pounds of fire gear.  A large crowd came out that December evening to wave, cheer and say thank you to the Ellington Fire Department.

Our gospel text for this morning was also about a parade. Jesus was in a sense the grand marshal.  Although this took place long ago, we honor Christ today when we keep his word in our hearts, speak of his love on our lips, and serve him with our deeds.
My text is Mark 11:1-11
When they were nearing Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany on Mount Olives, he sent off two of the disciples with instructions: “Go to the village across from you. As soon as you enter, you’ll find a colt tethered, one that has never yet been ridden. Untie it and bring it. If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ say, ‘The Master needs him, and will return him right away.’”
4-7 They went and found a colt tied to a door at the street corner and untied it. Some of those standing there said, “What are you doing untying that colt?” The disciples replied exactly as Jesus had instructed them, and the people let them alone. They brought the colt to Jesus, spread their coats on it, and he mounted.
8-10 The people gave him a wonderful welcome, some throwing their coats on the street, others spreading out rushes they had cut in the fields. Running ahead and following after, they were calling out,
Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in God’s name! Blessed the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in highest heaven!
11 He entered Jerusalem, then entered the Temple. He looked around, taking it all in. But by now it was late, so he went back to Bethany with the Twelve.
This is the Word of God.

The final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry began with a 5 mile walk to Jerusalem. After they had been on the road awhile, Jesus sent two disciples on ahead to find the transportation he requested.  As Jesus approached the Holy City, via the donkey, crowds of people lined both sides of the road where they waved palm branches and shouted the following.

  • Hosanna-which means “God Saves”
  • “Blessed is he who comes in God’s name” was a greeting used to welcome pilgrims to Jerusalem.
  • “Blessed the coming kingdom of our father David” was to acknowledge that Jesus was to inaugurate the messianic kingdom.

Riding that young donkey through the Eastern Gate that day, Jesus came as a messenger of peace. He did not come like the kings of his day, with their horses and chariots.  He rode as the prophetic Prince of Peace who would seek to conquer the spiritual hearts of the people.

Although the first Palm Sunday took place some 2000 years ago, it is still relevant. We may experience turmoil and strife in our life, but when we invite Jesus, the Prince of Peace, into our hearts, we will hold steady and sure.

There is the story of a woman named Alice who had gone through some rough times in her life. Alice had a reputation for her calm and happy disposition.  It seemed that no matter what difficult things had come her way, Alice was able to face them with grace and joy.  Now there happened to be another lady who lived in the same community experiencing similar struggles and was in need of strength and support.  When she visited Alice she said, “So you are the woman with the great faith that I have heard so much about.”  Alice replied, “No, I am not a woman with great faith.  I am a woman with little faith in a great God.”

What Alice said was true. Even though our faith may be weak, if we can believe and trust in the living God and make the relationship with the Lord part of our lives, we will have a greater measure of peace and happiness.

Jesus said in John 10:10 “I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” When we give our lives to the Lord and honor him, he becomes the king of our hearts.

As Jesus rode that donkey through the Eastern Gate so long ago:

  • He came as a messenger of peace.
  • He came as David’s greater son.
  • He came as a Suffering Servant bringing salvation to all who wanted the truth.
  • He came as the Vice Regent of God on earth.
  • He came as the Mediator between God and man.

 

That is who Jesus is.

When the British conquered Palestine, or Israel, from Turkey in December 1912, the commander of the British Army, Field Marshal Edmund H. Allenby, approached the city on his horse. But before he was to enter through one of the city gates to take possession of the city, he got off his horse.  He would not ride in because he felt that honor was reserved only for the King of Kings.

If you travel to Israel, one of the places you can visit is the Eastern Gate, the gate where Jesus rode through on his donkey on that first Palm Sunday. However today, that gate is now covered with bricks.  The story of how this came about is rather humorous.  About 1550 AD, the Moslem ruler, Suleiman the Magnificent, had brick masons seal up the Eastern Gate to prevent the Messiah from coming back into the city.  He thought he could prevent the Messiah from entering Jerusalem at his Second coming, hoping to nullify the prophecy of Ezekiel 43 and 46.

Last week, when we had our communion service, all of us recited the following phrase: “Christ has died. Christ has risen.  Christ will come again.”  We also prayed in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done on earth as it is in heaven.”

There are two phases to Jesus’ ministry. The first was when he taught the people the ways of God, and died for our sins.  His ministry was one as a Suffering Servant.  Jesus said he would come back.  When he returns it will not be as a suffering servant, but as the Glorified Son of God or the King of Kings.

If you were to travel to NYC you can visit the United Nations. There are 193 countries represented at the United Nations General Assembly.  Most of the leaders are called President, Prime Minister, Chief Minister or Head of State.  Among that group are 28 kings and 3 queens.

Outside the United Nations, stands a wall with a verse from Isaiah 2:4 which says, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” But for Isaiah 2:4 to be a reality, there has to be someone who is greater than all who will come from heaven and make things right; that is the Glorified Son of God.

To continue in that theme, at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, many Jews pray for the coming of the Messiah and for peace on earth.  Even in the Jewish Seder service, there is the hope that next year Elijah will come.  Elijah is the one who will precede the coming of the Messiah.

Let me close. Jesus was honored at that first Palm Sunday when he rode that donkey into Jerusalem.  Today our Lord rules in our hearts and this palm is a reminder of his teachings.  And by faith, as we recite in our communion, he will come again and make things right when he ends poverty, injustice, war.  So in the meantime, let us be busy in the name of the Lord through the example of our lives, our prayers and good works.

Sermon: A New Kind of Messiah

A New Kind of Messiah
Matthew 21:1-11
RUMC 20 March 2016

The Academy Awards, or the Oscars, is the most famous of all film award festivals in the world.  This televised event takes place every year in the 3400 seat Kodak Theater in Beverly Hills.  But what makes the Academy Awards so unique is the special red carpet.  I am told it takes two days for workmen to install the 10,000 pounds of carpeting in the theatre.   Stored in 300 pound rolls, it is cut and glued to perfection so no one trips or falls.  This year when the Academy Awards was held on Sunday, February 28, all the movers and shakers of the film industry were present as they walked down the red carpet in front of television cameras and hundreds of paparazzi and fans.

In our bible text, the people of Jerusalem rolled out their version of the red carpet in the form of palm branches and clothing; they did this to honor Christ.  Although this event took place 2000 years ago, we continue to honor Christ when we keep his word in our hearts and do those things to help others in their time of need.

My text is Matthew 21:1-11.
When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
This is the Word of God.

In the final week of Jesus’ earthly life, he and his disciples had left the tiny village of Bethany and began their 5 mile walk into Jerusalem.  Just before they approached the next village of Bethphage, a suburb of Jerusalem, our Lord sent two of his disciples to find a young donkey for him to ride, which they did.

As Jesus was about to enter the city, the people along the way began to spread their clothing on the ground, waved palm branches, and shouted the following.

  • Hosanna (God Saves)
  • Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. (Greeting given by pilgrims when in Jerusalem)
  • Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David. (Acknowledge Jesus is Messiah)
  • Hosanna in the Highest Heaven.

As our Lord rode on a donkey through the Eastern Gate so long ago, he came as a messenger of peace, unlike the kings of his day on their horses and chariots.  But when Jesus came as the prophetic Prince of Peace, he came as one who would conquer the spiritual hearts of the people.  I don’t know if you realize it, but in each one of us is a spiritual vacuum that needs to be filled, and Jesus is the answer to that void.  For many in this congregation, that vacuum has already been filled.  This is confirmed in John 10:10 when Jesus said.

John 10:10 “I have come that they might have life and more abundantly.” 

There is a legend or a fable about a king who was about to pay a royal visit to an ancient village in Spain.  This was the first time a king had come for such a visit to this little community and of course the people were excited.   Local officials had decided that a big celebration was in order and since many of the villagers had made their own wine, they asked everyone to bring a bottle of their own wine to the town square.  The plan was to have the king to draw wine out of the vat, so when he tastes it, this wine will be the very best he’s ever tasted.  So all the town’s people did as instructed and they poured their individual produced bottles of wine into the vat.

When the important day arrived, the king was escorted to the town square, given a silver cup, and told to draw some wine, which represented the best produced in the region.  The king placed the cup under the spigot, turned the handle, filled his cup and began to drink.

But to his shock and amazement, it was water.  You see, every villager had reasoned, “I’ll withhold my best wine and substitute it with water.”  They figured with so many bottles of wine, the king would never know the difference.  But the problem was that everyone thought the same thing and in the end, the king was greatly dishonored.

The moral of this story is that the people who were supposed to give their best, failed in the end.  In the spiritual realm, we honor Christ, when we give our best with our lives, our prayers, our giving and our service.  And when we do that, He is pleased.  That is what Palm Sunday is all about.

When Jesus rode the donkey through the Eastern Gate on that first Palm Sunday:

  • He came as a messenger of peace.
  • He came as David’s greater son.
  • He came as a suffering servant bringing salvation to all who want the truth.
  • He came as the vice regent of God on earth.
  • He came as the Mediator between God and man.

And that is the God we serve.

Philippians 2:9-11.  Therefore God also highly exalted Jesus and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. 

In this, the church age, we honor Christ in our worship.  As an extension of our faith, we honor Christ through those things we do to help in the lives of others.  When we do this, it is like we are waving palm branches as we honor and exalt the name of Christ.  And someday when we see our Lord face to face, we will honor him as well.

Let me close.  For those Academy Award winners and guests who had the privilege to walk on that special red carpet on Feb 28, it must have been a memorable evening, but for all intents and purposes, it was an event that came and went.  And with the exception of some controversy, it will soon be forgotten.  .

On the other hand, the first Palm Sunday will always be remembered, because of the simplicity of the way Jesus rode on a borrowed donkey to the shouts of people who waved palm branches.

When we receive this palm, think of it as a symbol of Christ’s death but also of his ultimate victory and how he reigns in our hearts.  It is a reminder that someday, he will come back and rule as King of Kings and Lord of Lord.  But until that day, we need to continue to honor him in our hearts and lives.