This Sunday is Palm Sunday. At Virginia-Highland Church, we will gather outside in front of the church to dedicate the new plaza we built to make the church more accessible to people who are differently abled. In the next phase of the project, we will install a lift that will enable people to rise to the sanctuary level or be lowered to the fellowship hall.
This work of making the building more accessible is a tangible, or incarnational, expression of our core value of “radical inclusion.” Lots of churches do this kind of work. Our congregation, however, is pretty young, and we have only a couple members for whom accessibility is an issue. That is what makes this project different from the typical church. We aren’t really spending this money so that our older members (who give most of the money) can enter the church more easily; we are doing it because we feel it is hypocritical to talk about welcoming everyone unless we do everything in our power to live that out. We could have spent this money in lots of other ways, but this is an expression of who we are.
That may be a parable about all our lives. Integrity requires us to live faithfully to what we say we believe. When it is put to the test, will we sacrifice for others or invest in ourselves? Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there is your heart also.” In other words, “Show me where you spend your money, and I’ll know who you really are in your heart.”
This isn’t true only about churches. Great crowds joined the party on Palm Sunday, singing, shouting, waving branches, and celebrating the arrival of one who they thought would bring victory over the Romans and restore prosperity to them people. When Jesus didn’t turn out to be the incarnation of that kind of Santa/God, they turned on him, and, by the following Friday, they killed him.
Pious values are all well and good … until it is our turn to sacrifice something we want. Then we end up telling the truth about ourselves.
Rev. Michael Piazza