Tag Archives: Palm Sunday

God’s Gift of Joy

Lent
April 7, 2017

Scripture Reading: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
   We bless you from the house of the Lord.
The Lord is God,
   and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
   up to the horns of the altar.

 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
   you are my God, I will extol you.

 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
   for his steadfast love endures forever. –Psalm 118:26-28

We come to the end of our Psalm for this week and understand why it was included in the lectionary. It is the source of the words used by the crowds that rejoiced in Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, on what we now call Palm Sunday. Can you image being a modern-day news reported standing with mike in hand getting people’s reaction to the arrival of Jesus. I am sure the responses were as varied as the people in the crowd. Many probably joined just to see what was going on: How would the Romans react? What would the religious leaders do? Some might have longed for the equivalent of a selfie they could share with their friends. Others having heard him speak were impressed with his teachings and wanted to hear more. A few knew who he was and why he was there. I doubt anyone fully understood what came next.

Jesus was well acquainted with the scriptures, particularly the Psalms. He knew that these words of praise were preceded by Psalm 118: 22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. His donkey ride into Jerusalem was the culmination of his entering the gate. Having planted the seeds for the coming Kingdom and started the process of training those responsible for its development, he was ready for the final phase of his mission which was the initiation of a new heaven and a new earth ruled by love.

Prayer: God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we thank you for the gift of your Son who is our role model, our nurturer, and our savior. For his sake, we enter your courts with singing as we experience the source of joy. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Ride On

Jesus enters JerusalemLent
March 28, 2015

Scripture Reading: John 12:12-16

The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,
‘Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—
   the King of Israel!’
Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:
‘Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.
Look, your king is coming,
   sitting on a donkey’s colt!’ — John 12:12-15

The time had come. We have all been there whether it was getting ready for a wedding or a funeral, preparing for a family reunion, or graduating from school. There may be a few last minute runs for more food or a quick wash when a child appears with food all over but the day is finally here.

I have wondered what Jesus thought as he rode through the masses. We know that he had sat looking down over Jerusalem and said: ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!’ (Matthew 23:37) That ride into Jerusalem must have been heart rending. The people are still so innocent, still so lacking in understanding. Had he prepared them enough?

As followers of Christ we are continually preparing to live our love to show mercy to do justice, but all our preparations do not mean a think unless we initiate and act. We may never feel ready but we will learn along the way and we are never alone as we journey toward the Kingdom of God.

Prayer:
God of grace and God of glory,
 On Thy people pour Thy power.
 Crown Thine ancient church’s story,
 Bring her bud to glorious flower.
 Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
 For the facing of this hour,
 For the facing of this hour.* Amen.

*From God of Grace and God of Glory by Harry E. Fosdick
All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Purpose

Purpose2Lent
March 26, 2015

Scripture Reading: Mark 11:1-11

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?” just say this, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.” ’ — Mark 11:1-3

These verses have always make me think that a lot of thought and planning had gone into this trip. While Jesus appears to do random acts of kindness throughout his ministry, there is an undercurrent of purpose in each step he takes.

I coordinated planning for a large multi-functional human service agency for several years. What I learned in that time is that nothing ever goes exactly as planned and rarely are purposes met that are not planned. Most of our lives are spent doing what we might consider mundane, routine tasks that add up eventually to homes being purchased, children going to college, and ultimately, for example, cures for dread diseases being discovered.

Jesus’ purpose, I believe, was to initiate the Kingdom of God throughout the earth. There may have been several course corrections on his path to Jerusalem that day and even more to come over the next several days but he never wavered from his purpose.

We as his followers are the heirs to his plan. We share the same purpose: Loving our way toward the end that the Kingdom of God is actualized throughout the world. Let it be so.

Prayer: Lord, nurture us to love as you loved, open our hearts to your plan, and our brains and backs to your work. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Victory Ride

Triumphal entryLent
March 25, 2015

Scripture Reading: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
   We bless you from the house of the Lord.
The Lord is God,
   and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar.

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
   you are my God, I will extol you.  

 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever. — Psalm 118: 26-29

 All four gospels* record the story of what we now call the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and all four gospels quote the line from this Psalm: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. The quotes are exact except in Luke where the word “king” is substituted for “one”. All four surely intended the connection between this poem of victory and Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem. All four most likely recognized the reference back to King David. Most of the participants and onlookers were acquainted with the Psalms, perhaps even the Roman soldiers, whose security alert level might have been raised when one entered the city like returning Roman troops. They might even have been offended by the caricature of a victorious king riding on a donkey.

Up to this point as we have journeyed through the gospels, we have seen a man who wished to remain in the shadows: “tell no one”, “he withdrew”, “Let us go to the other side.” On this day, he takes his victory ride straight into the arms of danger. Who is this man called Jesus anyway?

Prayer: Lord as we prepare to follow you from your victory ride to Golgotha open our hearts and minds to know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly and follow thee more nearly**. Amen.

*Matthew 21-22, Mark 11-12, Luke 19-20, John 12
**from prayer of Richard, Bishop of Chichester  –1283
All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.