My father and I were very different people
And that difference was most clearly seen on Saturday mornings.
I would be sitting there watching my cartoons, when my father would come in and change the channel.
Because on Saturday mornings he wanted to watch old westerns
I hated westerns. He loved them.
That was the difference.
One western he loved especially was the Lone Ranger.
And it was one I hated the most.
I thought it was so silly: some young girl in trouble,
some farmer about to lose his farm,
and in would ride the Lone Ranger on his strong powerful stallion, Silver,
come to save the day,
and bring peace to a troubled land.
Of course what was I watching?
I was watching Superman and Batman
and what would they do?
When someone was in trouble they would rush in,
using their superpowers to save the day and bring peace.
MY dad and I never talked about it; but
Perhaps my dad and I were not that different after all,
because we were both hoping for the same thing
Someone strong, someone powerful,
who would use his power to bring peace to those in need.
Although that desire is the stuff of cartoons and Saturday westerns,
it is not uncommon, nor is it new.
For the people in the prophet Zechariah’s day
were yearning for someone to save them
from the advancing armies of the nations around them.
They did not know who it would be,
but they knew what kind of person it would be.
It would be a strong king, a regular lone ranger type,
riding a powerful horse,
leading his armies to do battle against their enemies, so that peace could reign supreme
The people in Jesus day were yearning as well
for someone to save them from the repression of Rome.
In fact they were yearning for the same strong king
that the people in Zechariah’s day had yearned for,
the king who despite Zechariah’s promise, had failed to come.
And who are we fooling? We yearn for it too.
Ever since September 11, 2001 our country has waged a war on terror,
And invested in its military even at the expense of social programs.
And who does not remember the many who voted in the last election
because they thought they were getting a strong leader
who would show America’s enemies we mean business,
and make our country great again?
And yet the great king the people in Zechariah’s dayexpected and in Jesus’ day yearned for did not come,
and one group in Jesus’ day thought they knew why this was so.
They said that this great king, the chosen Messiah had not come,
not because God did not want to send him,
but because God’s people were not ready to receive him.
They were not righteous enough.
They had not purified themselves enough
through the good works of following the commandments.
This group said that in order to become that good righteous pure and holy people,
they had to separate themselves from this world
and be as holy as the priests had to be,
as holy as the temple had to be.
This group was called the separate ones, or as we know them in English, the Pharisees.
If they did that, the Pharisees said,
and did it long enough,
God would surely send the Messiah,
who would come wielding weapons to save the land.
Just like Zechariah and the other prophets promised.
Only thing is, Zechariah never really promised that.
Quite the opposite.
For the king that Zechariah had promised was not a great and powerful warrior
riding in on a mighty stallion.
He was meek and humble person, riding in not on a horse, but on a donkey.
He would rid Jerusalem of all the weapons of war
they had hoped one day their king would command,
Because this king’s one weapon,
his only weapon would be his justice
Perhaps this is why Jesus spoke of himself
as meek and humble of heart;
why he spoke of easing the burden
of the yoke of all the laws
his people were struggling to follow after the example of the Pharisees.
and why the Pharisees themselves did not recognize him for who he claimed to be,
not even when he rode into Jerusalem
on that Palm Sunday on a donkey
in conscious effort to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah.
Because they were looking for a king after their own image;
who would impose peace through power;
Instead of a king after God’s own image,
who would propose peace through justice.
Justice, which according to Zechariah arrives not through war and conquest,
but through working for peace.
That might seem to make no sense,
especially in our war-ridden,
terror-plagued world filled with injustice,
a world now fighting a real plague
which makes that injustice all the more visible?
And yet isn’t that what makes the Lone Ranger who he is?
Sure, he comes into town firing his guns,
but it is the way he fights for justice that makes him a hero.
And isn’t that what makes a super-hero who she or he is?
Sure they have all these super powers
but it is the way they use their powers to fight for justice
that makes them a superhero.
And come to think of it,
isn’t that what makes any kind of leader, including a president, who he or she is?
Sure, they have power,
But it’s the way that power is wielded,
either for the benefit of others or their own profit that makes them a hero.
sure they have armies,
but it is the way those armies are used
either waging war or securing peace,
that reveals whether they are a true leader.
The Messiah Zechariah promises,
and Jesus embodies
is not a warrior king;
But one who brings peace by establishing justice.
AND that means
that when we take his yoke upon our shoulders
and learn from him and work for justice;
the concrete day to day justice
that manifests itself in treating others fairly
and respecting other’s differences
and their right to be different.
When we work for that systemic justice
as individuals and as a community
for those rights the founders of our nation amost 450 years ago this weekend proclaimed are inalienable;
you know, when we work for the right to life
The right to liberty
and the right to pursue true happiness
For ourselves and for others.
Especially for those whose lives seem to matter so little to our country.
When we do these things after the example of Jesus,
We don’t need to wait for our messiah to come riding into town weapons at the ready.
For he has already arrived, and is at work.
Where he always is; in us.