Sermon given by Rev. Karen Tse, April 15, 2018. Rev. Tse was the ministerial intern here from 1998--2000. She's the founder and CEO of International Bridges to Justice, which works in over 30 countries to end torture and support the right of people to due process. Rev. Tse lives in Geneva, Switzerland with her husband and two children. She recently traveled to Massachusetts to receive the Peter Gomes Memorial Honors at Harvard Divinity School for her public voice and witness for justice.
Breaking news: sometimes the church, and church people, get it wrong! Like how church folks can focus more on the death and suffering part of the Easter story, than on the resurrection part; because sometimes it’s easier to stay walled up in the tomb. I know this in my own life—I can focus on the negative, can tend toward the melancholic. So this Easter season, I have a simple goal: to be happy more. Like we heard earlier from Wendell Berry, his confession “that I have not been happy enough, considering my good luck.”
We just heard the end of Mark’s gospel, the story of that first Easter morning, when those friends of Jesus, the women grieving his death, go to the tomb and find it empty. Here now is a second reading for Easter, from a contemporary source. It’s from psychologist Miriam Greenspan, writing about her child Aaron, who was born with a brain injury from lack of oxygen. He never left Children’s Hospital in Boston, and died two months after he was born. Hear now his mother’s words about the December day she buried her baby:
“At the cemetery, we lowered his small casket int the cold ground and took turns shoveling earth over it, as is the custom in Jewish burials. We sang to Aaron the songs we’d made up for him while he was alive and that we recorded for him to hear when we weren’t with him. Then, softly, as though spoken in my ear, I heard these words: You are looking in the wrong place.
Today I ask you to use your imagination: to think about Palm Sunday as if you were there. To wonder, who would I be in the story? Would I be marching along with Jesus, or in the crowd cheering him on? Would I be hanging back, worried that this was going to get me into trouble? Would I be one of the religious leaders, saying “This is not how we do things”? Or one of the soldiers, trying to maintain the status quo? Today I ask you to imagine Palm Sunday as not just an old story, but as a reality that happens again and again.