Sunday Sermon by Revd Sabelo Mthimkhulu. Palm Sunday 28 March 2021

Service Outline

COMMEMORATION OF THE LORD’S ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM

THE ACCLAMATION: Hosanna to the Son of David, the King of Israel.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.

THE PRIEST ADDRESSES THE CONGREGATION

READING: Mark 11:1-11

PROCESSIONL HYMN: All glory, laud and honour   CP 128

COLLECT: Eternal Father,

your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ fulfilled your will

by taking our nature and giving his life for us:

help us to follow the example of his humility

by walking in the way of the cross;

through the same Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

FIRST READING: Isaiah 50:4-9

PSALM: 31: 9-16

SECOND READING: Philippians 2: 5-11

GRADUAL: My song is love unknown   CP 112

GOSPEL: Mark 15: 1-39

APOSTLE’S CREED

OFFERTORY: Forty days and forty nights   CP 95

1st EUCHARISTIC PRAYER (APB pg 117)

RECESSIONAL: Ride on, ride on in majesty   CP 129

Sermon Revd Sabelo Mthimkhulu

Why do people suffer?

Why me?

Why him? or why her?

These are common question, especially when we see a “good” person suffering.

Everyone has once arrived at a point of suffering, and every has tried to explain the experience of suffering.

In the gospel reading, we just read this morning we find Jesus asking almost the same question

As he cries

“My God, My God why have you forsaken me?”

He is probably asking Himself, why has God allowed this to happen to me?

Why is he suffering?

Suffering is not just an idea, it is a real human experience

It something very close to us

Something we all don’t desire, but still happens

Most people of religion (Including us as Christians) associate suffering with moral problem.

‘This has happened to them, because they have sinned against God”

This is usually an easy way to justify suffering

It is very difficult to undestand how a loving and caring God can co-exist with suffering in the same world

In the same community

In the same family

In one person

There are at least 3 ways in which the Bible writers try to deal with suffering

  1. In the old testament books, suffering is mostly associated with God’s punishment, or with one being away from God. So, the understanding is that God can bring suffering as a result of what people have done.
  2. Some Old testament books do also suggest that God can allow suffering to test one’s faith. So, in this case it is believed that God does not bring suffering, but He does allow suffering. Remember the story of Job?
  3. God brings redemption through suffering. Most new testament books, especially the Gospels seem to make this suggestion.

Mark in this very long gospel reading we just read this morning seems to be also making the same suggestion.

Mark presents to us not a mighty, powerful and miraculous Jesus.

But a fragile Jesus.

A Jesus who suffers, a humiliated Jesus under the hand of the Roman empire.

He presents an opposite image of Jesus than that of Paul on our second reading (Phil 2:5-11).

Yes, Paul presents a humble Jesus, but he also presents a glorious Jesus, a powerful man who every knee bowed and tongue confessing.

Whereas on the other side Mark presents Jesus who died a shameful death.

A man who was mocked and hanged on the cross.

A suffering God, for suffering people

Few weeks ago, I suggested that “we become godlier when we have no power

When we are vulnerable.”

I am mindful of that fact that being vulnerable is not an easy thing.

No body desires to be vulnerable.

Being vulnerable is something that hurts inside and could probably lead to bitterness. We sometimes even go as far as being bitter even to God who would “permit” us and others to suffer.

But Mark suggests to us through the story of Jesus that God works through suffering to achieve redemptive purpose.

A vulnerable Christ brings redemption to a vulnerable community

Christ who cried ““My God, My God why have you forsaken me?”

brings redemption through our own vulnerabilities.

We can meet Christ in the vulnerable members of our community.

A crucified Christ revealed in the “crucified” members of our communities.

Jesus in not revealed to the centurion (who identifies His as the Son of God) through His miracles.

But though His sufferings.

He is revealed as the Son of God in His weakest point.

He is revealed in His painful death.

Some theologians who wright around the topic of “Theodicy” suggests that God, who created the world and ordained human freedom, could still bring good out of the resulting suffering.

So, what can we learn from Jesus’ suffering?

Maybe we are meant to leant that, God does not endure in our sufferings.

God wrestles with our sufferings. God wrestles with the sufferings of God’s own people and this is an activity we struggle to fully understand.

God’s activity of wrestling with our sufferings is imbedded in the suffering that Jesus endured which is far beyond our understanding.

God cares when we suffer.

Maybe we are also meant to lean that God can use our own sufferings, to bring healing to the suffering world.

Through our own sufferings we are empowered to comfort others in their sufferings.

God is not a distant supreme being. God is with us. God is among us.

When we suffer, God suffers with us.

When we bring comfort, God comforts through us.

When we (Like Christ) do something against the evils of our societies

We bring redemption to the suffering members of our society.

God who is within us, uses us to fulfill his redemptive task.

Amen