Throughout the year, the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ reproduces the Daily Lectionary for use by churches. These are the suggested readings for April 9th: Leviticus 23:1-8; Psalm 31:9-16; and Luke 22:1-13. I would encourage you to read these short selections as part of your Lenten practice.
Tomorrow is Palm Sunday and Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week. At tomorrow’s worship Service, palms will be blessed and shared among those present. We hope that the palms are taken home and displayed so as to remind those who see them of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The crowds greeted Jesus with shouts of “Hosanna!’, which means “Pray, save us!” in Hebrew. They acclaim Jesus as the “Son of David,” in other words, the long-awaited Messiah. The crowds are ecstatic as Jesus enters David’s city.
They are expecting revolution not revelation. They are not looking to Jesus for what He stands for and preaches. They are instead rejoicing in the imagery and expectations that they themselves would foist upon Jesus. They are demanding a military leader who will conquer the Romans and reestablish the earthly empire of David. They realize that this cannot be accomplished by a man on a donkey, but they see in Jesus the anointed of God, the Messiah, and as such they expect not only victory but vengeance. God will fight for Israel, and the people are ecstatic.
There is no way that the crowds could link this expectation to Jesus if they ever truly listened to His gospel or paid attention to how He lived. Even the disciples, on three separate occasions, could not fathom Jesus’ warning of impending betrayal and death. This is how powerful the people’s expectations were. They overwhelmed whatever Jesus said or did. They insisted that Jesus be the Messiah they wanted not the Messiah Jesus was revealing.
In less than a week, the crowds’ cries of “Hosanna!” will morph into demands of “Crucify, crucify him” because they were forced to realize that Jesus was not what they wanted Him to be. He was accused of threatening to destroy the Temple rather than to protect it and restore the unity between it and God’s kingdom on earth. And so they turned violently against Jesus. This is the story of Holy Week. And through the life of the church, Holy Week is not only history. It is bringing this climactic last week of Jesus’ life to life. We try to share in the mystery that transcends time and still speaks and affects us today as people of faith.
Think about today’s Gospel where we read: “So they went and found everything as [Jesus] had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.” This is not a one-time occurrence. This is the beginning of a mystery that we still celebrate and share in today as church. These are timeless events because Jesus is timeless, and our faith is what allows us to touch and share in them.
It is in this spirit that I invite you to join us as church, the called People of God. We invite you to share as part of our community on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and then to wait for the glorious news of Easter’s empty tomb. We would love to see you in person, but if this is not possible or is not your choice, please send an email to email@example.com for the login to our worship Services. Let’s give of our time and let Holy Week be holy.
If you’d like, here is the link to the Southern New England Conference’s daily reading schedule: www.sneucc.org/lectionary.
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