Sixth Sunday in Lent
Sunday, March 24, 2013
The Rev. Kealahou C. Alika
Auntie Esther Makuaole was a master lauhala weaver. She retired in 2005 as a weaver after working for 15 years with the Kauai Museum. During her lifetime she was honored and chosen as a “Living Treasure” by the State of Hawaiʻi.
I met Auntie Esther on an inter-island flight many, many years ago. She was on her way from Hawaiʻi island to her home back on Kaua’i. I was on my way to O’ahu for a meeting.
She took out a measuring tape from her bag and said, “Let me see.” After a moment’s pause and a glance at her tape she said, “Ah! Can!”
I told her about my Auntie Kapua from Kona who was herself a weaver. I remember my auntie and her weaving well. The women of Kona developed a certain style of weaving and among their signature pieces were pāpale simply called the “Kona hat.” But as a child, I never fully appreciated her skill as a weaver.
I realized years later that it was that memory of her that made me come to appreciate more fully the beauty of lauhala weaving. I then asked Auntie Esther: “You can weave one pāpale for me?”
“ʻAe! Yes!” she said, “And when pau I will mail it to you.”
Without hesitation, I wrote a check and gave it to her. The flight we were on arrived in Honolulu on time. I got off and she stayed on board for the remaining portion of the flight to Kauaʻi.
In less than three weeks the hat arrived in the mail. I never saw Auntie Esther after that day but I will always remember her because she was gracious and there was a level of humility about her that was remarkable.
It would seem that we are in short supply of folks these days who are haʻahaʻa, who are humble. These days we seem to be drawn to folks who are just the opposite. That contrast between humility and arrogance permeates our reading from The Gospel According to Luke.
On a day such as this we remember that two processions entered the city of Jerusalem centuries ago. From the west came Pilate draped in the gaudy glory of Roman imperial power: horses, chariots and gleaming armor. His presence and the presence of the Roman army were to make sure nothing got out of hand.
Many were gathering in the city for the celebration Passover, a time for the Hebrew people to remember and commemorate their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. From the east came another procession, one far from grandiose. Jesus in an ordinary robe riding on a borrowed donkey was on his way. (The Last Week, Marcus Borg & John Dominic Crossnan, New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006, pages 1-5) Despite his humble entry, some sensed that an insurrection was in the air.
In our reading from The Gospel According to Luke, we are reminded that Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem symbolized “the coming of a new kind of king, a king of peace who will dismantle the weaponry of war.” (Ibid.) As he enters, a whole multitude of the disciples surround him, begin to spread their cloaks on the road, and lift loud their praise: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Luke 19:38)
They proclaim even further: “Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heavens.” (Luke 19:38) Jesus is about to challenge and change the kingdoms of the world. If he is king, what kind of king?
Caesar’s kingdom is based on domination and ruthless power, the kind of kingdom Jesus rejected when he was tempted in the wilderness. For Jesus, the kingdom of God is based on justice, mercy and love. (Luke 11:42; Matthew 23:23)
What the two processions into Jerusalem offer us is a choice between two kingdoms: Caesar or Christ. The challenge many faced that day as Jesus entered the city and the challenge we face in our day and time is “how to show the gospel of the kingdom (of God) has political implications but (that it also) transcends our everyday political loyalties.” (Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 2, Bartlett & Taylor, Westminster/John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 2009, page 155)
It is understandable that Pilate was concerned. It is also understandable that some of the Pharisees were concerned. We do not know what prompted some of the Pharisees to call on Jesus for the disciples to stop their exuberant demonstration.
Were they embarrassed by the craziness of it all? Were they trying to warn Jesus that Pilate was keeping watch? Or were they afraid the Roman authorities would crush any insurrection, especially by those whose had seen all the deeds of power that Jesus performed?
Whatever the case may have been what is important is the recognition that Jesus is not an example of some larger notion of peace. He is peace. It is a peace that is found in the journey to Jerusalem and beyond to the hill at Golgotha. (Ibid.)
The journey to Jerusalem is a journey fraught with joy and despair; with suffering and pain. But it is a journey that Jesus must take; it is a journey that we must each take in our own lives.
It is a journey that requires preparation and while it would seem most of us are prepared, the truth is we do all we can to avoid the inevitability of death. It would seem we are never prepared when death comes our way.
Auntie Esther died on May 26, 2006 at the age of 91. She lived a long, full life and brought joy to my life and to many others as a gifted lauhala weaver.
It is said that Jesus died at the age of 33. He lived what for us today would have been a very short life but it was a full life - one that brought peace to many then and one that has brought peace to countless others down through the centuries.
For that we give thanks to God. Amen.