theunfamiliarname

Homily Palm Sunday Evensong C

In Uncategorized on March 29, 2010 at 8:47 am

“Let me sing for my beloved my love-song…”

That’s an interesting image with which to begin what is a rebuke,
the prophet Isaiah’s indictment of Israel and humanity’s failure
to be just, to be good, to be godly.

Love-songs, we imagine, are sweet, sentimental, safe.

But here we are this Palm Sunday,
this first evening of Holy Week,
and we are about to discover again
how very unsafe, painful and costly it is
to love completely and uncompromisingly.

The story of this week is the song of love without limits.
Let me remind you of Samuel Crossman’s great hymn
that some of us sang this morning:

My song is love unknown,
My Saviour’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
My Lord should take, frail flesh and die?

He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed for Christ would know:
But O! my Friend, my Friend indeed,
Who at my need His life did spend.

Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Then “Crucify!” is all their breath,
And for His death they thirst and cry.

“Love to the loveless shown, That they might lovely be.”

God in Christ Jesus,
the God Scripture tells us is love,
God takes on the sum total of our failings and our fears this Holy Week.
Jesus embraces, bears in his own Body on the Cross,
all that is unlovely and oppressive,
taking our burden and our brokenness,
that we might be made whole,
and be set free,
and live in the love that cannot be crushed or silenced.

Love is never wasted.
It is never lost.
It is never defeated.

Death, wrote the poet Dylan Thomas, shall have no dominion.
Though lovers be lost, love shall not,
and death shall have no dominion.

Love conquers the most hellish hatred and suffering,
love it is that holds our Lord to the Wood of the Cross
more firmly than mere nails could ever do…
because God is love
and love cannot turn away, even from the unlovely.

Love it is that we discover every Holy Week and Easter,
or its possibility, that it might take root again in our lives.

I pray that you will allow yourself to enter fully into the love-song
of these days when we relive and re-member our redemption.

Love demands a response of us, and will not leave us alone.
Christ the Cornerstone will break in pieces all that is not of God,
for Love is all that will ultimately endure.
Love would know us this Holy Week,
and make us know and grow
in that Love that was at our beginning and will be our end.

James K. Baxter wrote a love-song
as he thought about all he had felt called to leave behind
to take hold fully of love:

My love came through the city
And they did not know him
With his beard and his eyes and his gentle hands
For he was a working man

My love stood on the lakeshore
And spoke to the people there
And the fish in the water forgot to swim
And the birds were quiet in the air.

‘Truth’ – he said, and – ‘Love’ – he said,
But his purest word was – ‘Mercy’ –
And the fishermen left their boats and came
To share his poverty.

My love was taken before the judge
And they nailed him on a tree
With his strong face and his long brown hair
And the whiteness of his body.

‘Truth’ – he said, and – ‘Love’ – he said,
But his purest word was – ‘Mercy’ –
And the blood ran down and the sun grew dark
For the lack of his company.

My love was only a working man
And now he is God on high;
I have left my books and my bed and my house,
To follow him till I die.

‘Truth’ – he said, and – ‘Love’ – he said,
But his purest word was – ‘Mercy’ –
Flowers and candles I bring to him
And no man is kinder than he.

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