Unitive Seeing — The Vicar’s Palm Sunday Sermon

A sermon offered by the Vicar, The Rev. Lisa G. Fischbeck, Palm Sunday, March 29, 2015, @TheAdvocate 


It’s a lot to take in.

And it happens pretty fast.

It’s as if we are being liturgically jerked around.

We start with the glorious re-membrance of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

We become the crowd, you and I.

We take up our palm branches and we sing triumphantly.

“Hosanna Glory, hosanna Glory.

Jesus is coming oh yes I know…”


A little awkward perhaps, but certainly fun.

And maybe we connect just a bit

to that happy day,

when the crowds were really excited to see Jesus,

to be near Jesus,

to follow Jesus.

He is loving and kind, on the side of the oppressed, compassionate, wise.

And he heals.

He heals us and makes us whole.

“Hosanna Glory, Hosanna Glory.”


But … awkward though it is,

fun though it is,

it doesn’t last.

The liturgy tones down,

a lot,

and we tone down with it.

Crucify him!

And he breaths his last….


This is a yo-yo of a liturgy.

Barely do we take our seats

and the triumphal cheers become the sordid jeers.

“Crucify him!”

we shout.

And maybe we connect just a bit

with our very human part in his demise.


Time was, the liturgy for Palm Sunday didn’t include the story of Jesus’ death,

what we call the Passion Narrative.

The palm and passion Sundays got blended in the mid-20th century.

But they stay blended even now,

to be sure that folks who miss out on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday still get to hear the story of the crucifixion

before they slide too quickly into Easter and the celebration of the resurrection!


But this dual focus, compromised though it is,

can really preach.

Because as we re-member the crowd shouting Hosanna one day

and Crucify Him! a few days later,

it helps us more fully to understand the Way of Jesus.

And the Way we are to walk if we are to follow him.


In our lives,

in our world,

We are ever tempted to default into dual thinking –

good – bad

desirable – undesirable

right – wrong

orthodox – heresy.


But instead of dualities,

the Christian faith calls us to,

what Cynthia Bourgeault calls

“a non-dual consciousness”,

or unitive seeing.

Bourgeault is speaking of the unity between the mystical and the mundane,

the cosmic and the earthbound.

But unitive seeing can get us beyond a lot of dualities that tempt us,

can help us walk the Way of Jesus the Christ.



Much of Christian faith and life is lived between two apparently contradictory realities, claims, or practices.

The most blatant, of course,

being our claim that Jesus is as once fully human and fully divine.

But there are many.

Wise and innocent, for example.

You know, “wise as serpents, innocent as doves”.

In time, temporal,

and beyond time, eternal.

The Kingdom of God has come

but it’s not here yet.

On a more present and practical level,

last week some of us talked about the way that good liturgy is highly planned,

but also spontaneous.


As Anglican Christians, we walk a peculiar way

between Roman Catholic and Protestant.

A chunk out of each, yet also something new.


Christianity in general,

and Anglican Christianity in particular,

is not a faith for those who like things black and white, yes or no, clear and simple.


Except for the one unitive claim that is as clear and simple as can be:

God is love,

loving us

and calling us to love one another.

No nuance in that.

Nothing gray about it.

But to walk the Way of love compels us regularly

to walk in creative tension between two apparent opposites or dualities.

Like Jesus today,

like Jesus this week.


Crucify him!


Richard Rohr describes the Way of Jesus this week as a unitive way between flight and fight


Jesus’ passion and death exemplified in dramatic theater a “third way,” which is neither fight nor flight,

but a little of both.

It is fleeing enough to detach oneself from excessive ego and the emotions that attach to it

and fighting just enough to stand up courageously against evil.


….fleeing enough to detach oneself from excessive ego and the emotions that attach to it

This could be called making oneself vulnerable.


and fighting just enough to stand up courageously against evil.

This could be called being strong.


Fleeing and fighting.

Vulnerable, yet strong,

open, yet determined.


We have a lot to emulate here.

I know I do.

Situations and circumstances arise

which tempt us to go or only see one clear way or another,

to assume one behavior or another.


But for those who have been baptized into the life, death, and resurrection

of Jesus the Christ,

somewhere between “Hosanna” and “Crucify Him”,

We are called to walk a different way.

And it isn’t always clear

and it isn’t always easy.


As Christians, we are called to seek the Way of Jesus,

the Way where the Holy and the human touch.

We are called to live our lives

walking the way of the cross –

which means, among other things,

that we are to be vulnerable, yet strong,

mindful of others, trusting in God.

Some call it resilience,

others perseverance.


It is true as we relate one human to another

It is true as we strive to be a community of Christians relating to each other …..as a community of Christians!

And it is true for us each as Christian individuals

or as a Christian community

relating to the wider world.

Vulnerable, yet strong,

mindful of others, trusting in God.

We will be hurt,

but love bids us to keep going,

keep going.

And we do

because Jesus walked that Way before us.


This day,

this Holy Week,

Let us walk the Way together

You and I.

In the Name of Jesus the Christ.