April 2: The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday

The Rev. Joseph Peters-Mathews is the vicar of St. Hilda St. Patrick. The sermon for April 2, 2023 was preached in response to Matthew 27:11-54 based on the manuscript below.

“I’m so glad you got your son.

I’m so glad you got your son.”

That’s what Isabel Andrade told

Balenda Ganem

as Ganem’s son David

escaped the Mt. Carmel complex

in Waco, TX in 1993.

When I watched Balenda Ganem tell that story

and then watched David Koresh on video

with Isabel’s daughter and toddler granddaughter

I wondered, “Where was God in this?”

As we hear again the story of Jesus’ Passion,

even Jesus wonders where God is.

God who has promised to never leave God’s people

is questioned, is doubted, has aspersions cast.

“My God, my God,

why have you forsaken me?”

In both these moments:

Andrade’s grace for Ganem

and Jesus’ crying out with a loud voice

and breathing his last – 

God is present. 

God-made-flesh in Jesus,

joins us in our humanity so much

that he joins us in death.

While Jesus is feeling abandoned

God stands in solidarity with those

who die senseless deaths.

While Isabel Andrade mourned

the impending death of her daughter and granddaughter

God was with her

knowing the pain of losing a child.

God wasn’t in David Koresh’s

all that he had going on.

I don’t think God was in the tactical response

that sorted into good guys and bad guys

and cared more about exacting revenge and justice

than saving as many lives as possible.

God was there in the grief.

In the tears and loss,

in the sorrow of unnecessary death,

death caused by human brokenness,

human sin. 

Isabel Andrade wasn’t looking

for any big picture, cosmic significance of Good.

Nevertheless she spoke 

what good news there was.

Even in senseless death,

some life was spared. 

Let the same mind be in us that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God

as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself,

taking the form of a slave,

being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form,

he humbled himself

and became obedient to the point of death–

even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him

and gave him the name

that is above every name,

so that at the name of Jesus

every knee should bend,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue should confess

that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father. Amen. 

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