Pastor James Hopkins preached this sermon on Palm Sunday, 4/2/2023. The service was broadcast live and the video is now available on the FLC youtube channel. To follow along from home, the bulletin is available as a PDF: Palm Sunday Bulletin
The text for the sermon was the day’s gospel lesson. To read the Bible texts for Palmarum, click here.
If you were here for Beyene’s funeral yesterday, and if you are here this morning, it means you had to deal with all the traffic and blocked off streets, due to the filming of the Affleck / Damon movie here on Berkeley St.
And so, you have yet one more thing in common with the crowds in Jerusalem, welcoming Jesus, their King. Namely, all the trouble it takes to get close, to be where you need to be.
What I noticed yesterday as they filmed on the corner here, was how much everyone wanted to get in the shot. People were flocking toward the cameras, just with the hope of being an accidental extra, to find themselves in a scene when the movie comes out.
If you’ve ever spoken to someone who has pulled this off, you know that it is, for reasons beyond understanding, a point of pride; to have the smallest role whatsoever. To be near the bottom of the credits as “Confused guy #1″, or “Girl with dog.” And have your name there.
But, in the end, you are not Matt Damon. The movie isn’t about you. You are an extra. And if you weren’t there, and they couldn’t do the shot without some people, there’s always CGI.
There is a very good chance that you feel like an extra today. In many scripts of St. Matthew’s Passion, the speaking role of the congregation is simply listed as the turba, the crowd.
Whether it is the cries of “hosanna,” or the bloodthirsty shouts to “crucify Him,” your voice blends with everyone else’s.
I’ve spent enough time mentioning that Passion Week is not a Passion Play, dramatic as it may be. But I should also embrace the reality that today still kind of feels like that, as we all take our places, hold our props, and speak our parts.
But here’s a key difference: you, dear Christians, are not extras.
Jesus is the main character, to be sure; but there is no plot without you; you specifically; you uniquely. There is no divine drama without you.
Everything Jesus does: His living, His dying, and His rising again, is for you. Intimately, particularly, unambiguously, and purposefully, for you.
So, get yourself in every shot. Wave Palm Branches and shout Hosannas today. Be in the upper room on Thursday night. Kneel at the foot of the cross on Good Friday. Wait outside the tomb at Vigil on Saturday night. Feast at table with Jesus on Easter Sunday. Jesus wants you in every scene.
Because however much you may feel like an extra, you are the love interest. This story does not make sense without you.