Coney Hill Baptist Church

Demonstrating God’s Love Together

16th March -Palm Sunday

Bigwords – Shopping

Matthew – 21:1-11

Intro…

In the lead up to a celebration, what’s important?  

Anticipating an event is always full of anxiety:  What will happen? Have the preparations been done? Will it get too busy?  

Then there is always the question … will all that there is to do, distract from the main event or amplify it?

Easter may not be quite the big cultural event of some other festivals, perhaps especially this year with it not falling within school holidays, but it begins today. What will you make of it?

The first Easter was set in the midst of anticipation.  A busy and a hectic time.  A full city, crowded accommodation, much preparation to be made.  The disciples needed to secure a donkey, the crowd were trying to get hold of branches, excitement was in the air. 

Maybe they didn’t make the most of it.  Today we can turn anything into an event.  Donkey rental business’ would surely spring up, offering no questions asked deals, ‘a colt for a weekend’.  Similarly,  florists would fill their stores with palm braches of every hue and shape, if you want to save money in future years, plastic branches would no doubt be supplied.  Streamers would be produced as a cheaper alternatives to cloaks.  Song-sheets, with backing tracks supplied, would be made available for those who needed help with the singing, with different versions included for those of ethnic backgrounds which might struggle with the whole ‘Son of David’ thing.  The whole festival could be taken to another level, Easter’s ‘brand awareness’ would rise massively, in future years we could diversify further, maybe by veering away from the more unsavoury aspects and concentrating perhaps on say, the time of year, we could do eggs, rabbits … all sorts.

Our final ‘Big-Word’ before Easter, is ‘Shopping’.  Although it seems trite and lightweight, it might just be the biggest of all.  Our economy, our society, our lives are dominated by consumerism.  Everything is accorded its price, and we’re all expected to pay up.  Even if we resist, the effects are all around us, we can’t escape the consequences.  Not just in the supermarkets, but everywhere now, we expect to be able to choose what we want. To demand, on our terms, whatever out particular tastes require.  If we want to be successful, to be in a position to punch our weight in this process of demand, then we need to make sure that we’re playing our part, adding to the supply of around the clock service.  If that means, working longer hours, answering e-mails at midnight, sacrificing our weekends, feeling threatened of being undercut by those willing to do what we do, and more, for less, then so be it.  We need to acquire the ability – to consume, to shop.  

What’s all this got to do with Palm Sunday, with Easter? 

We are a mass market, put yourself into the crowd.  Today, the man on the donkey is hot property, public opinion has deemed him to be worthy of praise, he is the next new thing.  It wont last, but today we are full of hope, today we see all that he is, today we worship. 

But have we brought the mindset of the supermarket into church? Do we worship as consumers, or disciples?

This week is designed to mark the difference. From the over-turning of temple tables to the prayer in the garden, the challenge is laid down, the crowd ebbs away, until there’s no-one left.        

The 2 versus the crowd, what was the difference?

 

The disciples looked to Jesus, they were sent. (v.6) 

            The crowd looked at each other.

 

The disciples had a particular task… detailed obedience. (v.2-3) 

            The crowd did as they pleased. (v.9)

 

The disciples knew Jesus. 

            The crowds were only guessing. (v.11)

  

Conc.

The shopping experience, our consumer culture, panders to our whims and tastes.  It says we are Lord, and the market will adapt to meet our every desire … if we’ve got the cash. 

It is fundamentally different to Easter faith.  That says take up your cross and follow me.  I have a job for you, will you come, whatever the cost?