Monday, April 18, 2011

Sunday's Sermon - Palm Sunday A (04/18/2011)

April 17, 2011 – Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday A
Isaiah 50:4-9a; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 26:14-27:66

© 2011 Evan D. Garner

They didn’t remember the exact moment when they met, but, since they had grown up in the same small town, they had always kind of known each other. He was two years older than she was, but that didn’t stop him from noticing her. It wasn’t just her physical appearance that caught his attention. She was both strikingly attractive and remarkably unassuming—approachable and yet, in his adolescent mind, unattainable. Although he didn’t know it at first, she fancied him as well, and, after he mustered up the nerve to ask her out on a date, she said yes.

For both of them, it was the first time they had ever felt this way—in love. The world seemed to stop whenever they were together, and, even though they were so young, what they had was truly special. Over the years of high school and college that followed, they had their struggles. He graduated and went off to school when she was only sixteen, and for a while they stopped dating. Given how close they had been, he was a little surprised when their relationship didn’t automatically pick back up when it was her turn to go to college. Now, separated by hundreds of miles, they kept in touch, but it wasn’t until he drove all the way down to her dorm in the middle of the night to tell her that he loved her that their relationship was rekindled.

When they stood in church and looked at each other, exchanging their vows, everything felt perfect. The love that God had given them for each other had never been as real or as powerful as it was in that moment. And the promises they made to each other were expressions of a deeper commitment that they shared—one that couldn’t be put into words. The next night, when they sat at a small dinner table in their honeymoon cottage, they just knew. They knew they loved each other, and they knew that they love they shared was the kind of love that doesn’t die.

One night, about eight years later, everything changed. He was in Tulsa on a business trip and was wrapping up a difficult project for a client. His small team had gone the extra mile in making sure that the client was happy, and, although at one point their success seemed in doubt, they had pushed through and gotten the job done. The woman on the team wasn’t particularly attractive, but they had worked together long enough to build an intimacy, and, that night, when the celebration lasted a little bit too long, he made the biggest mistake of his life.

The return flight was agonizing. He replayed the previous night in his mind over and over in utter disgust. He revisited the biggest moments of his marriage—the first kiss, the wedding day, the birth of their two children—and wondered how he had gone wrong. He never wanted to betray his true love. He never even thought it was possible. As he drove home from the airport, his heart beat faster and the weight in his stomach grew heavier as each successive mile passed. By the time he pulled into the driveway, he knew that he had to tell her. He couldn’t bear this pain by himself, and, strangely enough, he needed her now more than he ever had. He parked in the driveway and stayed in the car for several minutes, watching through the front window as she finished setting the table. As he walked up to the door, the last question in his mind was whether she could still love him despite what he had done.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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