Reverend Nicole Lamarche

Keep Your Heart Open to the Mystery

Mark 11:1-11 and An Excerpt from Into the Mystery: A Sending Blessing for Peg + Chuck by Jan Richardson
March 24th, 2024Palm10:30 a.m.
By Rev. Nicole M. Lamarche

Thank you again for being here on Palm Sunday the beginning of Holy Week! And Spring Break for many in our community!
I invite you now as you are. Moved, to take some deeper breaths, letting ourselves be here as fully as we can, to tune into whatever word is meant for us today.

And as you are moved, I invite you to join me in a spirit of prayer from Psalm 19.

God may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.

It’s a “puzzling event in the story of” the “movement toward his destiny.” That’s what one scholar said about the text we just heard from this Gospel of Mark. And this story appears in all four canonical Gospels albeit with some variations. And it raises so many questions. At least it does for me.

Especially since we already know how the whole thing ends and since he probably had a good idea of how it would end too, I wonder why he did it like this?

Was he like, “Hell with it, if I am going down, I will do it my way!?” Because he made a dramatic triumphal entrance right into the heart of the place where those who wanted him silenced and dead called home. Why make such a scene?

Maybe he wanted a little moment to relish the crowd that had gathered? To hear some praise and gratitude for his message and his life, for the path he was on, before it was done.

Because after they shout hosannas at him, he goes right to the temple. And maybe he took those blessings into a time of silence? Before he goes off to find the 12 in Bethany. Before he has the final meal. Before he utters his last words.

Maybe because he knew it would be the last time that he did this journey to Jerusalem?

Jerusalem. It means City of Peace.

And he could have entered the gates on war horses with a crowd armed with swords, but instead he enters the City of Peace on a colt with a little group singing songs. It’s showy, even light hearted almost, it’s non-violent way. I think maybe that’s why he did it like this, to creatively resist, show with his body a different way.

It seems so perfect, like the puzzling nature on its own is trying to tell us something, like part of the point is that any true spiritual journey is confusing, disorienting, perplexing, mystifying, but to still follow the path in the midst of questions.
Maybe this is essential and simple, but not necessarily easy, following the mystery, keeping our hearts open? As we heard from Jan Richardson,

“keep opening your heart to the mystery, keep finding its pulse, keep moving in a cadence of presence through this wild landscape of chaos and grace.”

Keep open to the Mystery.

That sounds a bit abstract.

But part of what this means for me, at least, part of what I understand being open at that level, to mean, is being willing to not just move ahead faithfully without all of the answers, but to in fact be willing to have our old answers questioned.

And what does that look like if we are standing with Jesus today, in 2024 on that puzzling procession to and through Jerusalem, the City of Peace?

What does it look like right now?

When I look, it feels more to me like we humans are acting out of old answers in that place, busting down the gates on war horses with a crowd armed with swords. Taking trauma and making more trauma, instead of trying to transform it.

My heart has felt broken open for a while and I know I am not alone.

Near that City of Peace, there is mourning and fear and waiting for hostages and weeping for the lost and the starvation of bodies and spirits and the death of so many children. Tens of thousands of lives lost. I haven’t wanted to turn away, but some of the images, they are forever woven despairingly in me as a reminder of how much better we could have done.
While our nation state supplies all of the weapons, we say we wish there is more we could do to help. While our countries claim to be pro-life, to love babies and kids, if an alien life form came to planet earth right now, would they agree? As we sacrifice our children to the idols of nation states? Do we really value life?

What if we followed Jesus into something else? On the edge of Jerusalem? What would a creative, non-violent, thing look like?

Because the Jesus way is about trying at every turn to transform the trauma into something else instead of bringing more trauma, hurt and despair into the world.

What if that is a message for us today?

Can we trust the Mystery on the way to something else, more than our own old ideas, our old answers?
And here’s another message I wonder about from the bigger story of this Holiest of Weeks in the Christian tradition.
What if sometimes there isn’t a military solution to what is unjust or wrong? So Jesus chose to stop the cycle and not accept the answers of the violent status quo as the only possible solution.

I wonder if we need that reminder over 2,000 years later.

Part of how we change pain into something else, is not spilling it out onto others. Open hearts have room to generate goodness.

What would it look like to keep our hearts so soft and open, that we can embrace something we haven’t seen yet, willing to let go of old painful patterns because they are familiar?

What would that look like in the Middle East? I believe it starts with a Ceasefire and feeding the starving kids and bringing the hostages home. I believe it starts with more having courage.

And in all of the places where some have decided they know for sure that more death is the answer, that the way forward is more of the violent status quo, I believe that something else is possible. We can no longer settle for the least creative option, which is to wipe one another out.

Mattias Roberts just this morning was quoted in a meditation by Father Richard Rohr and he said, “Jesus walked willingly into a human world, defined as it still is today, by violence and dependence on the scapegoat. He was murdered not because God wanted or needed a sacrificial death, but because as a human when the stakes are high, we determine who is in and who is out, through violence and death.”

What might emerge if we let go and kept open to what is not yet? Instead of putting more trauma into the world, simply because we aren’t sure what else to do.

And because it is profitable to keep on with the ecosystem of weapons and war. Defense firms RTX and General Dynamics formerly known as Raytheon, (America’s second and third largest federal government contractors,) have seen their stocks increase more than 10 percent since the October 7th attack on Israel.

What if instead we invested our treasure and the treasure of our hearts into trying to transform our trauma creatively? Individually and collectively? Through this wild landscape of chaos and grace? Through the puzzling events in the story of the movement toward our destiny?

What do you think? Especially today, I want to remind us of the gift of our diverse perspectives as we create space to hear one another. We even have a covenant to disagree without being disagreeable, we are going to take a few minutes to share as we are moved. What would it look like to try and transform our trauma individually and collectively instead of causing more pain in the world? What if there aren’t military solutions to every injustice? How can we remain open to Mystery and to doing things differently than what has been tried before as part of our spiritual path?

And to you who are a part of our worship on the livestream, you are invited to journal or discuss with those in your home or ponder on these same questions.


Beloved of God, what if we kept our hearts open to the Mystery? To what isn’t yet, but what could be on its way? What might be possible if we loved new questions more than old answers? May it be so. Amen.