Every week, Dwight Campbell writes a commentary on Billy's sermon to use as a discussion tool for the Men's Group that meets each Thursday. They meet on Thursday evenings at 7:00 p.m.
Link to this sermon
There will not be a Men's Group meeting this Thursday as we are in the middle of Holy Week. For your contemplative review however, following is my synthesis of Billy's sermon, "Palms and Pedicures" that he gave last Sunday.
Billy opens his sermon with the question: What is the defining story in the Hebrew scriptures for the Jews? Answer, Moses leading them to freedom from bondage, first into the wilderness and then into the promised land. In fact, the Jews were celebrating Passover, an annual remembrance of this event, when Jesus enters Jerusalem on what has become known as Palm Sunday. In 32 AD, when Jesus went to Jerusalem, the Jews were not free but were under harsh Roman rule. That rule legitimized an exploitative system that favoured Rome, and among others, the religious elite. When these three forces met, namely Jesus' teachings, Roman rule and the Religious elite, conflict was inevitable. As Billy mentioned several times in the sermon, Jesus journey moved into the political arena.
Using Palm Sunday and the upcoming Holy Week experience, Billy develops a metaphor; one worth contemplating for our own spiritual growth. Simply put, the metaphor has three phases. One, leave your Galilee, that place of comfort and security that you know. Two, go to your Jerusalem, that place where you will face the forces of change that you inevitably will encounter. Finally, experience your crucifixion and your subsequent resurrection. It is important to note, that early in developing the metaphor, Billy asks us to first take the inward journey. With phrases like: (a) give up our need to get ahead or be better than others, or (b) give up that place where we need to be right and others wrong, Billy is reminding us to spend our 40 days and nights in the Judaean desert, before we join the procession to Jerusalem.
After relaying a humorous story of how a 9 year old Billy Hester combined his religion and politics, he moves to seriousness and the heart of his sermon. He called it the Great Palm Sunday Cop-Out. Jesus' journey to Jerusalem was political and he confronted and antagonized the powers of the day. Jesus mixed religion and politics and stood against what he felt was wrong. As Billy said, if you take your religious seriously, you have to take your politics seriously, they go hand in hand,
Billy then tells the story of Fanny Kimble, an English actor who married Pierce Butler in 1834. Unknown at that time, Pierce was to become the one of Americas largest slave holders through inheritance. After visiting one of the plantations on St. Simons Island, Fanny journaled about he cruelties of slavery. Faced with divorce and the loss of custody of her 2 daughters, Fanny, a fierce abolitionist, published her journals to further her beliefs of justice and freedom. Fanny joined the procession to Jerusalem, being willing to stand up for what she felt was right, even if it meant her crucifixion.
Billy ends his sermon with a reflection on the title, Palms and Pedicures. In discussing how Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, Billy adds to his metaphor, asking us to allow Jesus to touch our feet, and in so doing wash away our insecurities, our bitterness and our pain so we can follow Jesus into the world he so passionately loved.
Love and Blessings,