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Mk 11:1-11 · Php 2:5-11 · Isa 50:4-9a · Ps 118
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When the Cheering Stopped
Matthew 21:1-11


Some years ago a book was written by Gene Smith, a noted American historian. The title was "When The Cheering Stopped." It was the story of President Woodrow Wilson and the events leading up to and following WWI. When that war was over Wilson was an international hero. There was a great spirit of optimism abroad, and people actually believed that the last war had been fought and the world had been made safe for democracy.

On his first visit to Paris after the war Wilson was greeted by cheering mobs. He was actually more popular than their own heroes. The same thing was true in England and Italy. In a Vienna hospital a Red Cross worker had to tell the children that there would be no Christmas presents because of the war and the hard times. The children didn't believe her. They said that President Wilson was coming and they knew that everything would be all right.

The cheering lasted about a year. Then it gradually began to stop. It turned out that the political leaders in Europe were more concerned with their own agendas than they were a lasting peace. At home, Woodrow Wilson ran into opposition in the United States Senate and his League of Nations was not ratified. Under the strain of it all the President's health began to break. In the next election his party was defeated. So it was that Woodrow Wilson, a man who barely a year or two earlier had been heralded as the new world Messiah, came to the end of his days a broken and defeated man.

It's a sad story, but one that is not altogether unfamiliar. The ultimate reward for someone who tries to translate ideals into reality is apt to be frustration and defeat. There are some exceptions, of course, but not too many.

It happened that way to Jesus...

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Leonard Sweet's Sermon

Get Out the Ticker Tape
Mark 11:1-11

There is a time-honored story about a little boy who was sick. It was Palm Sunday and the children waved palm branches to open the service. But this young man stayed home from church with his mother.

His father returned from church holding a palm branch. The little boy was curious and asked, "Why do we wave palm branches on Palm Sunday, Dad, and why do we call it Palm Sunday?"

"You see," his Dad explained, "when Jesus came into town, everyone waved palm branches to honor him, so we got palm branches in the worship service today."

The little boy replied, "Aw, Shucks! The one Sunday I miss is the Sunday that Jesus shows up."

Well, I'm confident that Jesus will show up today, even though we will not be able to welcome him with quite the excitement with which the crowd in Jerusalem welcomed him 2,000 years ago. Someone has compared the reception Jesus received to a ticker-tape parade in New York City honoring heroes and celebrities.

Some of our young people might wonder what ticker-tape is. For those who may never have seen the stuff, ticker-tape refers to long, narrow strands of paper, with holes punched in them. These strands of paper once carried information about the performance of the New York Stock Exchange.

As the information was entered by machines, holes were punched in the tape as it fed through, and other machines would read the information for the benefit of brokers and investors. It was sort of an early computer--all very modern in the first half of the twentieth century. But there was a problem--what do you do with the tape once it had gone through the reader and was no longer useful?

One cynic says since all that ticker-tape was waste paper and, even then, expensive to get rid of, some enterprising person had the bright idea of staging a parade for some hero and dumping the whole mess out the window.

This is not quite true. Actually, the greatest honor that the city of New York can bestow upon an individual or a collection of individuals, say a championship sports team, is to throw a ticker-tape parade. Since the first parade in 1886, 204 of these celebrations have taken place. Since then thousands of tons of paper have descended on the heads of various kinds of heroes...

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