April 14, 2019: Palm/Passion Sunday
Rev. Kristin Stoneking
Epworth United Methodist Church, Berkeley, CA
The 11th step in the 12 step program is Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
Throughout this Lenten series, we’ve sought to increase our conscious contact with God, to understand God’s will and to have the power to carry it out.
We’ve met in 10 different small groups and asked each other the questions How are you doing no harm, how are you doing God and how are you maintaining conscious contact with God. We’ve done so
through Bible study,
through studying our tradition as Christians,
through our brokenness as people who live in a racist society,
through the path of the labyrinth
through the glory of creation while moving our physical bodies.
Perhaps most of all, we’ve sought to maintain conscious contact with God through prayer, seeking to know God’s will and have the power to carry it out.
This week we enter holy week, we enter into Jesus’ passion. This week as we walk the via Delarosa, the path of sorrows, we remember how Jesus sat in the Garden of Gethsemane, seeking in the midst of sadness, betrayal and chaos to maintain conscious contact with God. Not my will but thine be done, he prayed.
So often when we pray, we are praying for something specific to happen. “I need for this to happen, God” we pray. But Jesus in the garden reminds us we don’t have all of the information. We are, in fact, not all knowing and all powerful. What seems like what we want or don’t want, can be only an illusion, only part of the story. I do not believe Jesus wanted to die. He surely did not want to suffer the humiliating and painful death of crucifixion on a cross.
And so Jesus prayed, Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.
But what he did know is that the good news is an invitation. It is an opportunity to new life. And it is a choice. Though grace always surrounds us, pulling us to turn away from death and toward life, we have to choose to do it. To turn our lives over to God as we understand God and to walk the path that leads to life. One big choice, and countless repeated choices every day, every hour. One day at a time, one hour at a time, we must choose to turn toward God. Too many when Jesus walked this earth chose not to walk that path with him.
Jesus didn’t have to die, we could have accepted that new life, that heaven on earth, that he was offering. But we didn’t.
It is not over. We can still choose to accept what Jesus offers. As we walk this path this week, and we experience the struggle between life and death, the betrayal, and the crucifixion, let us seek always to maintain our conscious contact with God and say with Jesus, not my will but thy will be done. Amen.