Sermon: Palm Sunday, April 1st.

“Is there something more?”

Rev. Stacy Swain

Mark 11: 1-11

Will you pray with me: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable to you, O God, our rock and our redeemer, Amen.

Have you ever lain awake at 3:00 in the morning? Have you lain there staring at the ceiling — your head full of churning thoughts — your heart pounding?

Do you know what it is to be lost in the darkness of that hour? To have the silence fill with worry?

“I’ve got to find work fast, but where?”

“How are we going to pay for college tuition and still have enough to live on?”

“How can she be dying? She is my best friend.

“How am I going to keep my son from being cut down like Trayvon?”

“I know he treats me wrong, but I have nowhere to go”

“I cannot afford to get this lump checked out but can I afford not to?”

In that darkness, we may try to remember what we were told about faith, how it frees and transforms. But feeling that divine love that is supposedly loose in the world is hard when we feel so alone, so pinned down with worry. When we so deep in the darkness of the night.

It’s 3, then 4 and then 5. The sun is not up but we might as well be. So we stand, wrap ourselves in the fear and anxiety that has been our bedfellow for most the night, and we resign ourselves to just make the best of it. What other Way is there?

And so we head out into our days where we wander among others who most likely have been staring at the ceiling since 3:00 in the morning. But we dare not ask them of this and we do not speak of this to them. We stay silent. And so to borrow some words from Henry David Thoreau we press on in our lives of quiet desperation. Our resignation nothing more than confirmed desperation.” (P. 24.)

It was 1963 when one came who refused to be shackled by silence. When one looked full into the face of resignation and said “enough,” who looked full into the heart of desperation and said “no longer.” Did you hear his words, did you hear him say “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; he said, for years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.” Did you hear him say: “we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality; a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Did something move in you when you heard these words?

With his words ringing in their ears, and his vision illuminating the darkest night, they came together and dreamed and marched. Through Martin Luther King Jr. s silence was broken. Hope was incarnate in that man and people who had lived with their back up against the wall[1] were moved by it. Moved out of their aloneness and desperation, moved to come together singing and marching, waving that hopes in the air, and those that went ahead and those who followed were shouting for the more that they knew now was theirs.


It was 1977, fear and the unspeakable violence had terrorized the people of El Salvador. Years of war had sown suspicion and fear tore communities and families apart. Death was everywhere. When he looked into the face of his dead friend Jesuit Priest Rutilio Grande, gunned down by death squads, he could not be silent anymore. He into the faces of the thousands who lived in fear and he said “Enough!”. He looked into the heart of their desperation and said “no longer!” Can you hear his words even now? Did they move something in you?

“THE CHURCH, has to denounce what has rightly been called ‘structural sin:’ those social, economic, cultural, and political structures that effectively drive the majority of our people onto the margins of society. When the church hears the cry of the oppressed it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to and perpetuate the misery from which the cry arises.”

Hope was incarnate in Archbishop Oscar Romero and people who had lived with their back up against the wall were moved by it. Moved out of their aloneness and desperation, moved to come together singing and marching, waving that hopes in the air, and those that went ahead and those who followed were shouting for the more that they knew now was theirs.

This wave of hope, this breaking of silence, this looking full the face of desperation and saying no more, began so long ago. There in slavery to Pharaoh and then again, there under the ruthless rule Rome. The people were living lives of quiet desperation. Their resignation nothing more than confirmed desperation. Living if you could call it that was about scrapping by, keeping your head down and keeping out of Rome’s way. They were a people whose backs were up against the way, who lived in fear.

And then there came the One who set hope, and freedom and transformation in motion. The ripple of which flowed into King and then out into the people. The ripple of which followed into Archbishop Oscar Romero and then out into the people. Jesus refused silence, and the isolation silence brings. Jesus looked full in the face of resignation and said enough, he looked full in the heart of desperation and said no longer. “Did you hear it?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the Children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3-10).

And through his words and the example of his living, Jesus broke through the silence and isolation and fear and an people who had lived with their back up against the wall, came together, shouting on this day, Hosana. They waved palms, and they stripped the cloak of fear and anxiety from around their shoulders and laid it down on the ground before him, this hoped for Messiah.

And so today we join them, we join them all. We join all the people of the ages who have known fear and worry and in isolation have been shackled to silence. Today we say no more to all of that. We wave our Palms in the air, and unwrap cloaks of anxiety and fear and lay them down.

Today we join with those who have come before us who have walked through the gates of resignation and desperation to something new and we are invited to imagine what deliverance and freedom, hope and “something more” could look like for us in 2012. Let Hosanna be our cry. Amen

[1] A phrase from Howard Thurman’s Jesus and the Disinherited.