March 29th Sermon Reflection

On Palm Sunday morning, we considered one of the most ancient texts in all of Christendom – Philippians 2:5-11.  Scholars tell us that the first portion of this text was actually a hymn, which was sung by the early Christian church (verses 5-8):  “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross.”

In this life, we often value being “full” above everything else.  We yearn for a full life, a full heart, and a full plate.  The life and example of Christ reminds us that there is great value in being emptied.  Alternatively, we often think of “empty” in a negative way.  We do not want to be empty-headed, to have empty minds, empty gas tanks, or empty bank accounts.  We run to the grocery store when the pantry is empty.  Shopkeepers rush to stock their shelves when inventory runs low.  Empty words.  Empty life.  Empty glass.  Empty stomach.  All of these are “bad things,” in our view.  Yet, on this Palm Sunday we are reminded that Jesus “emptied himself” and became a servant.

Several years ago, I preached a sermon on Easter Sunday that I entitled, “Empty is Everything.” On Easter Sunday, and every Sunday, we celebrate the reality of a tomb that was empty.  In the midst of that sermon, I said – Easter isn’t for full people.  It isn’t for the “have-it-all-together-life-is-good” people.  No, Easter is for empty people.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ is for those who’ve figured out that in this life, “full” is a fleeting feeling.  The “theology of empty” is really where it’s at!