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Two Processions

Palm Sunday
March 25th, 2018
Christ Church Cathedral
Indianapolis, IN

A group of 45 youth and adults from the Diocese of Indianapolis got back into town at a quarter to six this morning having spent the last two days either en route to or in Washington D.C. to be present for the March For Our Lives. There are some who were on that trip here present today.

The witness that these adults and youth have provided is something that I commend to you, and it is something that will stay with me forever.

There’s a Roman Catholic Theologian named John Crossian who has a theory, a reading of Palm Sunday as a story of two processions; The procession that we read about today of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and the procession of Pilate into the city with the reception of a Roman Governor.

There’s a stark contrast between those two processions. Imperial processions were such that the official comes into the city to show the majesty of empire. Showing the city the glory of what can be if they just accept Roman rule. The imperial procession with centurions, palace guards, full official retinue, showers the city with gifts and with praise.

What we see in Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, however, is different. Instead of Jesus coming in to meet the city, the city comes out to meet Jesus. To lay down palms and garments. To sing unscripted praises. To meet a man riding on a donkey.

This was our story.

At every step along the way we were greeted with such amazing hospitality. Tremendous hospitality. The Diocese of Washington, the City of D.C. laid open a feast for us. We came back with more food than we left with.

And I want to say a very hearty thank-you from this pulpit to the people of St. George’s Washington D.C. for all that they did for us.

As we left on Saturday morning to walk the 1.25 miles from St. George’s to our rendezvous at the Church of the Epiphany, we started off in a line- not unlike the procession that we had this morning. A little more chaotic and a lot more orange. People stopped along the way to greet us. They honked their horns in support.

The city was alive with a spirit that something was happening. And what we saw when we made it to Epiphany, what we saw when we made it to the March was a confirmation that what is going on among our Youth, that what is happening in our Country, is real, is powerful, and should give every one of us hope.

Youth from our Diocese, from the Diocese of Indianapolis, led the national Episcopal gathering in prayer. Youth from this Cathedral walked for miles and stood with a million people raising their voice to demand that things must change.

I watched an 18-year-old on a national stage hold a million people in silence for 5 minutes. If you’ve ever tried to hold a dozen people in silence you know how difficult that is and this 18-year-old girl, held a million people together.

The whole of that rally, the whole of that March, the whole million in D.C. and I daresay the city itself knows that what was being proclaimed there, what was being said by every one of those speakers is a fundamental truth that cuts to the heart of the Christian message– Every one there, every man woman and child was there to say one thing, and they said it loudly.

Death will not win.

They will not let death win.

That’s the same thing we’re here to proclaim.

As we begin this week, and we walk through to Good Friday. Stripping the altar on Maundy Thursday. Gathering in the dark and the cold on Saturday night. We do all this, we can stand to do all this, because we know in our bones that death does not win.

When the Youth got back to St. George’s at the end of the rally, two of our chaperones who work in City and State government were flooded with questions. How do I register to vote? How do I schedule a meeting with my local representative? How do I become a congressional Paige? How do we make sure that the youth we heard from the city of Chicago aren’t gunned down by guns that come from Indiana?

The Youth of this Diocese are alive and they are clear.

They’re tired. I am too.

But what I know, just as this is the beginning of Holy week, what we experienced in D.C. is the beginning of something that has been a long time coming.

With every ounce of me I believe in these Youth.

I urge you to support them, and to hear their stories. Because their message is the message of Holy Week– Death doesn’t win. It never will.

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