Sunday, April 1, 2012

"Welcome to My World"

This blog posting by Dr. Michael Brown, senior minister at Marble Collegiate Church, appears on the church's web site.

“Welcome to my world!” It’s a phrase we often use when someone complains about something we live with on a regular basis. “I can’t believe how much it costs to rent one space in a parking garage!,” or “I am so disappointed my alma mater lost in the NCAAs!,” or “It’s incredible how much I pay in taxes!,” or “I have to be so careful about my weight that I’ve given up everything that tastes good!,” or “Sometimes my arthritis is so painful I hardly get any sleep at all!,” and we respond, “Welcome to my world.” It simply means we understand, we know what they’re going through, we’ve lived where they are living.

When the crowds cried out “Hosanna!” on the first Palm Sunday, to an extent they were saying to Jesus, “Welcome to my world!” “Welcome to Jerusalem where we are overworked and underpaid, where we are oppressed by the government and also by the religious hierarchy, where we struggle to make it from one day to the next, and where we live in constant fear that our burdens will increase and our liberties will be all the more restricted.” They did not make a “Welcome” carpet of palm branches to invite Jesus to a party. Instead, they laid down those branches hoping that He would become their Deliverer. “Welcome to my world. I hope you can redeem it.”

It was, of course, a two-edged sword. “Hosanna” has its costs. Whenever we invite Jesus to enter our world, it becomes incumbent on us to create an environment where He will feel at home. If my spiritual house is furnished with anger or bitterness, with negativism or prejudice, with narrow-mindedness or exclusivity, with a denial of hope or a paucity of love, He cannot possibility feel welcome there. If I invite Jesus into my world, it is important to tidy my world up a bit. On Palm Sunday He entered the Temple and began to throw out whatever things dishonored God and demeaned people. If my world contains things that do either, then those things need to be cleaned out to make room for Him.

By the same token, if my world contains pain, fear, loneliness, brokenness, guilt, sickness, self-doubt, despair, or a host of other issues that make life more burden than blessing, then Jesus lovingly follows the palm branches into my own personal Jerusalem. Where human hurt resides, so does He reside – with unfettered love for those in pain, with comfort for those who lean upon Him, and with the power to cleanse our temples of whatever things diminish us. He comes with love for you and me and all. And all we have to do is whisper, “Hosannah! Welcome to my world!,” and He is there.

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