March 29th: Celebrate

By: Bailey Brawner

To start us off this morning, I want to ask you all to put yourself in Jerusalem on the day when Jesus came to town on that colt. I want you to imagine yourselves working or playing with your families or taking a nap, when suddenly, here comes Jesus, the Messiah. Would that work of God get your attention?

In my world, God often has to give me big hints like that in order for me to understand or follow what He wants for my life. A lucky guess tells me I’m not the only one.

As I look back on my life, I recognize some of the little hints God was throwing my way, ones I chose to stubbornly ignore or warp, or ones that I just didn’t recognize as a ‘big enough hint’. Hindsight really is 20/20 for me.

 After I fell in love with Jesus, I learned to develop a special relationship with Him, one which gave me an entirely new outlook on the way I wanted to live my life. 

One of the thoughts I remember having was a desire for having a job where I could talk about Jesus all the time! That would be awesome, I thought. 

So what did I do? Did I go to a religious school or change my major? Nope. I went to school to be a PUBLIC school teacher, just about the only job I can think of off hand in which you can’t talk about God. 

After I recognized that, I felt a true tug towards ministry, and I even knew it. The word ‘pastor’ made the way into my head, and it terrified me, so I tried to compromise. I had a conversation with God, in which my words were something like “ okay God, I’ll go into ministry, but I’m doing it my way.” For the record, that’s never a very sound argument when talking to God. But, my naïve 18 year old mind wasn’t getting away without trying, so I looked into children’s ministry, insisting that was the plan I was going with. 

That next summer, I interned at my home church in Anchorage. Mostly, I’d be doing youth and children’s ministry, according to my contract. Both were areas which excited and eased me, because I was good at them and they were in my comfort zone. So there I was, happy and un-challenged…just the way I liked it. 

Well, in early June of that summer, my pastor, Jenny approached me asking if I’d preach that following Sunday. My mind said absolutely not, but I’ve been to Sunday School before, so I knew to say yes to the pastor. After dreading it the whole rest of the week, it was finally time to preach. As if the pressure wasn’t already on, I was going at it in front of one of my current pastors as well as my former pastor and now church superintendent. So I stood up there, shaking, and started to speak. Ironically enough, the movie I was speaking on, “The King’s Speech” was all about finding a voice. That night, I didn’t have a choice but to find my voice.

From the point I started to speak, I fell in love with it. Though I‘m sure my voice was barely audible because of the shakiness, it was the best feeling in the world.

That was the night I realized I had been lost and then found at the same time, finding God’s work along the way. I was lost within my own comfort zone, doing things that were easy for me and that I was good at. That night at church, I recognized that I wasn’t especially excellent at preaching and it certainly didn’t come easy to me, yet God had still decided to lead me towards it, and to show up in the midst of that discomfort. That was the night when I got it finally. God showed up in a big way that night, and I needed it to listen.

God took my insecurities, my doubts, and even my stubbornness, and turned it into a calling. Even after I ignored Him again and again, God showed up, and I am confident that He will forever show up.

On Palm Sunday, we remember this story of Jesus riding in to a town one day. Jesus showed up, and he showed up in a big way. He literally showed up… that’s about as good as it gets. In the midst of imperfect people doing imperfect things, Jesus showed up. Sometimes it takes something as blatantly obvious as this for us to get the memo that there’s work being done in our lives and in the kingdom. 

Sometimes it takes us being nervous or in fear or uncomfortable for us to acknowledge Jesus. God will do this again and again. He loves us so much that He will move a mountain or perform miracles or make a rainbow just to get us to acknowledge His works.

At the same time, God works in small ways. God can speak to us through a butterfly, or through a yellow stop light or through a text message. The big ways are great, but I find myself most amazed in the little ways I see God working in my life. One of the smallest ways I can think of, an act that is plain and monotonous and an every-day kind of thing is our breathing. 

Take a moment to simply breathe. Feel your lungs filling up and releasing air as you inhale and as you exhale. Feel your breath getting slower and then faster as you interact with the world around you. Concentrate on your breath and only your breath. 

This breath that I feel, and this breath you feel; that’s God working in us.  You may say, umm that’s actually a scientific process, but just think about it. With every inhale, God reminds us that we have more to learn and more to take in. With every exhale, we hear God telling us that we are forgiven, that we can let go of all the anger and mistakes and sadness. God reminds us that things enter our life, and things exit our life; circumstances, thoughts, ideas, and even people. God reminds us that it’s okay, because with the things that leave, new things will appear soon, just as we refill our lungs with new oxygen. 

Something as simple as a breath is God communicating with us. We breathe all the time, but still fail to see His works in us. We find ourselves distracted or annoyed or too stubborn to acknowledge the breath, the personalized communication of life from our creator, who is the personalizer of all our hopes and dreams and desires.

Today and tomorrow, and for the rest of your life, I challenge you to simply breathe. Find a short time to sit or stand or lay down and breathe. Turn the world off, all the distractions and temptations, and listen. God has something new and good to show you. It doesn’t always take Jesus riding into town on a donkey. Sometimes it’s as simple as feeling yourself breathe.

Will you pray with me.

Loving and Holy God,

We are amazed by you and by the ways you show up.

In the big ways and especially the small, you are there. 

Even when we miss your cue, you are there.

As we enter Holy Week, we ask that we become more aware of you.

We want to know you more deeply and more completely.

God, show us new and unimaginable things in the name of Jesus.

Show us our Hosanna today; the thing that makes us excited  and full of your spirit and ready to parade around waving palm branches.

Thank you for loving and teaching and pushing us to live a life full of your grace.

In your name we pray,



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