Palm Sunday

Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield
Sunday 28th March 2021

The gate at the east entrance to Holy Trinity Huddersfield.

In the news this week, Lord Braid, one of Scotland’s most senior judges, ruled that the Scottish Government overstepped its powers in closing church buildings in Scotland during the pandemic. “Worship in their faiths cannot properly take place on-line, by means of internet platforms.” was part of that judgement. I disagree, having been part of the experimental online church Church of Fools which became St Pixels since 2004 and having seen the good work that Disability & Jesus, @DisabilityJ and its offshoot The Ordinary Office @Ord_Off have been doing not just for disabled people but for anyone who is unable to attend a physical church I have to say that online church is real church, not a substitute for stones and mortar but real in its own right.

A teacher at Batley Grammar School was suspended this week for showing a RE class cartoons depicting Mohammad. There were protests outside the school on Thursday and Friday and the school Head has spoken out against the action of the teacher involved. In view of this, and that the cartoons are believed to be the ones published by Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 and republished in September 2020, I have removed all images and added an explanation to a blog post I made in January 2015, even though none of the images were of Mohammad, and added a note to say that in my view these images go beyond what I would accept as satire.

This morning the Radio Leeds service was about hope, that’s all I have to say, daylight saving meant I was not awake enough to take it in.

Vicar Mike lead the Holy Trinity service, starting by thanking to those who have sent a lot of time making these online services possible then led us into worship with words from Matthew’s Gospel. (Matthew 21:8-1)

The confession used the words, forgive us and help us, perhaps you can pause and use those words after telling God about what you have done wrong of failed to do right.

Lizzie told us about her healing. At least that’s what I think it was. It was recorded outside the church building, but a combination of wind noise on the microphone, traffic noise and background music meant that my autistic mind, which is unable to turn background noise off, it’s all or nothing, was unable to unscramble the different sounds and I heard nothing of what Lizzy had to say. I felt excluded. Mike’s final words at the end of the service were also lost as the background music was too loud.

I’m in two minds about saying this, I do not wish to insult the people who are doing so many hours of work putting the service together, and this is the first time in over a year of online services that it has been a problem, so well done team and keep up the good work, but please, and this is a plea to anyone who prepares video content for churches, business and anywhere else, keep it simple.

Paul, a life group leader, was preaching. Soon will be able to have people for meals in our homes, he said. Jesus had a meal with friends, which included Lazarus who Jesus had recently Before I go on to the sermon a point about nard. I have never heard of nard outside churches, or indeed outside the context of this passage of the bible, other than it being a perfume and expensive. It could be my autism again, but I looked it up on the web during the sermon. It turns out that nard is the short name for spikenard, which is a type of honeysuckle that grows in the himalayas. As it is not native to Judea being imported would be part of the cost.

The reading was John 12:1-17, please read this before continuing.

Look at what Mary did here:
She let down her hair, something a woman would never do in public. But this is not what Judas complained about.
She wiped the feet of of an unattached man. Another taboo broken, but this is not what Judas complained about.
She took a container of pure nard, worth the equivalent of about £18.000 in 2021 pounds and broke it. Nard was usually diluted, she used it pure. Nard was usually used a few drops at a time, she used the whole bottle.

This is where Judas complained, not just at the waste of money. It was too much money, too much show, too much emotion. It was just too much. Could this be what tipped the balance? After this Judas goes to the authorities to betray Jesus. Jesus then goes to ride into Jerusalem.

Some questions to ask yourself:

Do I want to control how God will work in my life and in the church?

Chris Tomlin the Christian songwriter was raised in conservative buttoned up church. He wrote about how one week a middle aged woman came and raised a single hand, alarming to the others there. A deacon of the church went over and asked her to put her hand down, asked to conform.

What kind of God do we want to worship? One we can control? One who will do what we expect? That is not Jesus.

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