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Way Forward - March 28, 2021

by Rev. Joan Kessler

Mark 11:1-11

Today we begin Holy Week, a time set apart to commemorate Jesus’ passion. We hear this story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem every Palm Sunday and the challenge is to find what is speaking in this moment… what is new and coming forth. The scene is set, it is a festive atmosphere as Jerusalem prepares to celebrate the Passover, the Jewish commemoration of the Israelites exodus from Egypt. We have heard sermons about the two very different crowds that gathered on opposites ends of town… one to greet Pilate and his military parade… symbols of power and might...and then Jesus and the pilgrims who followed him that day as he rode in on a borrowed colt. Reflecting on a passage we go to every year is challenging... it means blowing the dust off of it and looking for those things which haven’t been seen… those things that speak to us anew.

For me, I am preoccupied with the Annual meeting that is going to take place immediately following our service. I would like to just let Jesus ride into the city and me be a spectator alongside… to just watch him go by. It has been a busy, thought-provoking spring for us. New revised health orders coming at us in quick succession, the planning of this holy season gets rewritten continually. But today begins the week that is the heart of my journey… all the busyness brings me to this. It takes a thoughtful and steady hand to navigate Holy Week in the most ideal of circumstances. Taking time, reminding myself I am a pilgrim on the way, helps this. I am most grateful for the sharing of pilgrimage art over these past weeks of Lent. The greatest gift to me was not the images alone but the reflections that accompanied them. Voice was given to the inner journey… we heard stories of grief and loss… coming through the trees, questioning what is around the bend, life experience that twist and turn and shape. This day, I reflect on Jesus’ final entrance into Jerusalem before his death and I am drawn to the fluid motion of the whole scene. The untying… the bringing… the waving… the blessings. Good things to consider as we move into our AGM. And maybe these things even help us answer the question that has been before us since we received our budget proposal for 2021 and that is, “What is the way forward for Winfield United?

What needs to be untied? What things in life have filled their purpose and can be relinquished with thanksgiving? I am asking this question on a personal reflective level and I am asking as a leader and member of a community. On the paper the budget is written on, it effectually indicates we are far outspending more than we are receiving… we have some committees that are not active in part because of COVID and no building to house programs… there is also hurt to heal and reconcile and find that place of starting again… of moving from the margins… to the centre and back out into the wider world once more. What things do we untie and let go of?

What things to do we bring today…right now… as we are? Creation tells us we have enough… we are enough… we are sacred beings with minds to think and hearts to love. We have an abundance of gifts in our community. We will be asking you to give your impression and feedback on the mission statement that has been crafted as something we can hold up when we consider the gifts we will share and the choices we will make for this time we find ourselves… into the near and distant future.

What about waving… what is that about? The meeting we will have today, the matters we need to discuss are critical to our future life together. It is so important that everyone feels they have a voice and they are able to share how they feel about what is before us. For some of us, silence is our comfort place, and it is just easier to let others speak… but with the Zoom format, you can type your thoughts in the chat box and we will know what you thinking. We want your opinion, your concerns brought to light. So, we are going to do some waving this morning and whether it be in your yes or in your no.

What things will we bless today? What words will we offer of love and support to our Council leaders, our thrift store volunteers, for those who work behind the scenes with little notice from anyone else, our staff in the office? I just learned that the Greek root of blessing is eulogy or to speak well of. We celebrate the year that has been with the reminder that Spirit is still speaking to us… and with our gratitude we speak words of kindness and support and encouragement to each other… our blessings that we should never just save for a special day such as the AGM but make a cognizant effort to bless one another continually without ceasing throughout the year.

So, this is my subversive message for a subversive kind of Sunday… it is not the typical Palm Sunday reflection but it hasn’t been a typical, ordinary, regular kind of year. This is our second Holy Week on Zoom… it’s all I’ve ever had with you and that is just hard… but it isn’t impossible. We are soon going to call to order our Annual meeting on Zoom… and we are going to do a most subversive thing and ask that you pass a budget that notes a nearly $60K operating deficit. Who else but a community of faith would entertain such an idea? It is not the typical request nor the expected, but it is what we will do and we will untie and bring and wave and bless as we do this most unheard of act... standing along the parade route watching will not be enough…we are going to move from the margins… to the center… and back into the world again. May it be so.


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