Sermon  March 29, 2015  Palm/ Passion Sunday

Mark 15: 25-39

Sermon:  Emptying Ones Self Only to be Filled with God  by Rev. June Fothergill

We sit in astounded awe as Jesus completely empties himself on the cross.

He has no status, no friends,  even it seems, no faith- Why O God have your forsaken me.

He cries out and then he has no breath.  His life is poured out.

Yet, in the face of this despair the man who looked straight at him, who saw him

A gentile, a soldier, a stranger said in wonder

“ Surely this is the Son of God.”

The moment of complete emptying was a holy moment.

The moment of deepest despair was a sacred time.

The temple curtain was torn in two- something new was happening.

God had entered our world in a new way.

Hung with the deepest, most anguished human experience

And tore it open-

Created a channel for love/ unconditional/ gracefilled love to flow.

There is a story, I think it is from China, an ancient tale, that I have adapted to help me understand this mystery of Jesus death, this strange and life giving way of emptying.

Once there was a farmer who had a wonderful farm, fields of vegetables as far as one could see. In the center of the farm, near the river there was a large bamboo tree. Under that tree the farmer and his workers would rest and drink from the river in the shade of this wonderful tree.  The tree and the farmer were great friends and would converse together often.  The farmer loved the tree and the tree the farmer.  Then one day troubles came.   A drought scorched the earth and the river didn’t run as high and mighty. Then  a big storm came and knocked down the plants. It blew so hard that even the big bamboo with a cry of anquish, came crashing down.  After the story, the farmer ran to the great tree and knelt beside it.   He looked out over the devastation of the land, the wilted dry plants, the blown down stalks, the great bamboo, its branches twisted and its roots laid bare  and  his heart broke.  He cried for his ravaged land.  In his tears he realized that his heart and that of the bamboo were one.  He heard deep within the spirit of the bamboo whisper to him  “ Use me.”    The farmer looked up and realized that he could use the bamboo to bring water to his parched plants. He reverently split the big trunk and using its hollowed inside made a channel.  Placing one end in the river and the other in the fields, the bamboo channel allowed the river to flow to his plants.   Soon because of the sacrifice of the bamboo, the farm flourished with life.

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