Today, if you didn't know before you came to church, and I'm
glad to see you made it on time considering the time change, it's
Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday, Easter and Christmas Eve is when many
folks who don't come often, tend to show up along with the
There was a frontier church that had burned down and the town
saloon keeper offered his place for Sunday services. As the
preacher was covering up the bar and bottles with sheets, the
saloon's parrot spoke up and said: "Aha! A new bartender!" Then
the women of the choir came in and the parrot said, "Hey! A new
floor show!" But when the congregation arrived for the service,
the parrot lamented, "Aah! The same old customers!"
This is only my second Palm Sunday as Pastor at Trinity. For
some of you it might be the first time you are seeing and hearing
me. Well, I want to share something with you about pastors. There
were three boys who were bragging about their dads. "My dad writes
a couple of lines," the first boy said, "calls it a poem and gets
$100 bucks for it." The second boy said, "My dad makes dots on
paper, calls it a song, and gets $500 bucks for it." The third boy
spoke up and said, "That's nothing. My dad writes a sermon on a
sheet of paper, gets up in the pulpit and reads it, and it takes
six people to collect and bring in the money."
Today's sermon title is "Shouting Down the Hosannas!" Jesus
enters Jerusalem to cheers and shouts of "Hosanna!" Now most folks
think of the word "hosanna" as meaning something like, "Praise the
Lord." But it's actually the Greek form of the Hebrew petition,
"Save, we beseech you." In other words, "We are pleading with you
to save us." It's a sort of praise in a way because they recognize
there is power in the person to do something for them. They would
shout "hosanna" when some important person like a king would enter
the city. The people who greeted Jesus had heard he was the
Messiah who was going to save them. They thought he was going to
save them from Roman occupation of their country.
But just five days later they were shouting "Crucify him!" Talk
about a quick change of heart! In the little story I told about
the saloon parrot recognizing the congregation as customers, it
was a recognition thing. The parrot obviously didn't know anything
about the people themselves. The parrot saw them only as bar
customers. And the same is true of those who shouted "hosanna!" as
Jesus entered Jerusalem. They thought he was something other than
who he was. They had the idea he was going to be an earthly
Messiah who would free them from Roman rulers.
And the boy who thought that his father's sermon and preaching
was what brought in all those collection plates filled, he didn't
recognize that everyone had already made up their mind as to what
they were going to put in the offering plate that day. He thought
it was his father's preaching that did it. It would be a thrill
for a pastor to have someone in the congregation be so inspired by
his or her sermon that they would be moved to drop in an extra ten
or twenty or even a hundred in the offering plate.
Last year I preached a sermon, now labeled by me as the
'infamous Palm Sunday sermon.' It did indeed stir some folks
up-made some folks mad. I was surprised that they had heard lots
of positive sermons from me up to that point, and that just one
negative one would sort of taint the whole bundle of them.
But you see, it doesn't take much to shout down hosannas. Most
pastors talk about a 'honeymoon' period of about a year where the
congregation finds favor with what the pastor says and does. But
after a certain point folks start finding fault with this or that
and start complaining and murmuring.
It happens in all our lives all the time. Folks try to shout
down our positive beliefs. Folks try to shout down our faith.
Folks try to shout down any good that we do. And we even do it to
ourselves. That is, we sometimes get on our own case and shout
down our confidence, our self worth.
If the word "hosanna" means that we are shouting to the Lord to
save us, then shouting down "hosannas" means that when folks do
that to us, they think they can drown out our petitions to God for
help, for strength, for guidance. They think they can make us
believe that Christ is not a Savior. They think that they can
drown us out and drag us down into negativity and a state of mind
that builds a wall between us and God. No way! Don't you believe
for a minute that they can do that to you! Stand tall. If they try
to shout down your 'hosannas' then you shout all the more!
There are wonderful stories in the New Testament of folks
shouting to Jesus and even the disciples try to make them stop.
But Jesus hears them. They can't be shut out; not even by
If you come to church and love it at church, don't you EVER let
anyone shout down your 'hosannas' and drive you away-no matter
what they say. This is YOUR place where you meet Jesus Christ in
relationship in a special way. You can meet Jesus other places,
sure. Probably even on the golf course, or out on the lake
fishing, but here there is something you can't get anywhere else
and you NEED it to strengthen your relationship with God. Each
week it can be something different, but each week there is
something that happens here for YOU personally, AND for you as
part of a special gathering of believers in Christ. You can't get
that out on the golf course or at a baseball game or soccer game.
You can only get that something special HERE.
It certainly won't always be the sermon, although even though
YOU don't get anything out of a sermon, someone else might. It
always confirms my belief that the Holy Spirit has charge of how
folks hear my sermons because as people leave and comment, I'm
amazed at what they say moved them or what they got out of it. I
say to myself, "Did I say that somewhere in the sermon?" And there
are days that I don't like the sermon, don't feel good about it,
and there are folks who rave about it.
And certainly, don't get caught up in negativity, and certainly
don't hang in negativity, so that you shout down your own
hosannas. By that I mean any one of us can get into a jag of
complaining about everything from work, to family, to politics and
religion. So much so that we don't even recognize that our prayer
life has changed, perhaps no longer consistent, no longer
including gratefulness. Or we don't recognize that our praise of
God has turned to bitterness. That our recognition of blessings
disappears. Recognition of our abundance turns into seeing only
lack. Our spirit of trust in God turns into not being able to see
a positive future, turns into not being willing to step out and
take a risk for the sake of the Gospel, for growth of one's spirit
and soul, for the growth of Christ's church and outreach in
When you shout down your own 'hosannas' you are cutting
yourself off from the flow of God's love and strength and
guidance. You stop asking the Lord to save you. You get into
thinking you can save yourself. You get into thinking that what
you have is yours and not God's, not given to you by God, but that
you earned it, achieved it on your own. You get into thinking that
says you have to horde what you have.
A man sent a letter to the IRS. He wrote, "I can't sleep at
night so I am enclosing $200 I forgot to declare. PS. If I still
can't sleep I'll send the rest." Yes, even the check you write for
taxes to the IRS, send it off with a blessing of God that it will
bless and multiply to help others. Don't be concerned that others
are cheating on taxes and not paying their fair share. Just
recognize that you ARE and that what you give in taxes is actually
sharing with others. Think of it as going to help someone in need,
or to repair some road or bridge so that it remains safe…whatever.
Just send it off with a blessing knowing you are sharing God's
abundance to you with others.
Sometimes we forget that God gave us what we have-money, gifts,
talents, and abilities, not only to share with others, but that in
using those gifts for God, sharing those gifts with others in
Christ's name we are letting Christ SAVE us. Did you ever
recognize that God, in answering our prayers, even in praying for
ourselves, God always answers by involving someone else? That is,
any prayer I pray for myself, God never answers by only benefiting
Hosanna! We shout to Christ. Hosanna! Save me! Let's let Christ
do that! Let's not shout down our Hosannas! Let's show the world
that we know that Christ saves. Don't let the events of a week
shout down your Hosannas! and turn you from what you know is true
in your heart. See with the eyes of faith. See beyond what your
eyes tell you. See that there is more love in the world than hate.
See that you have been given, blessed with the power to help
others see that. Help others see what you believe about the saving
love of Jesus the Christ. Don't be shouted down. At the least sign
of being shouted down, or doing that to yourself, shout all the
louder---Hosanna! Let me hear you….Hosanna! Louder! Hosanna!
Louder! Hosanna. Amen and Amen. And so it is!