Greetings on this Passion/Palm Sunday. It is hard to believe that we are entering Holy week. Easter is upon us and we are still called on to worship in our homes. The medical experts are telling us that this week and the next few will be a time of great difficulty and sadness as the tragic consequences of the pandemic will peak. I encourage you to continue practicing healthy social distancing and please continue to be in prayer for each other and our brave doctors, nurses and first responders, as well as those who are stocking shelves, delivering food and keeping us supplied with necessities, all heroes who we truly appreciate.
This last Sunday before Easter is called Palm and or Passion Sunday because most of us usually do not or in this situation cannot worship every day or hold services throughout Holy Week. I wish to direct your thoughts to reflect on the days of lent which began on Ash Wednesday, February 26 and the very strange and stressful season we are living through. During Lent we can think about our lives alongside the life of Jesus, inviting inward transformation and outward action. This unusual and tragic time has given us unique opportunity to consider our lives as never before in present memory. I trust we all have taken the time to reflect and meditate as the season was intended.
The end of Lent is on Thursday, April 9, three days before Easter Sunday. Holy Week which begins today with Palm Sunday marking Jesus’s arrival in Jerusalem, where he received palm branches at his feet, according to scripture. After Palm Sunday comes the cleansing of the temple on Monday, then the first supper (recorded in different places and times by the gospels) then Holy Wednesday, which acknowledges Judas Iscariot’s plan to deceive Jesus. That’s followed by Maundy Thursday and commemorates Jesus’s last supper—this is the official end of Lent, but not the finish of Holy Week. Next is Good Friday, when Christians recall the crucification of our savior. The final day of Holy Week is Easter, when believers acknowledge that Jesus rose from his tomb. So, we remember the event of Jesus entering Jerusalem as the beginning of the eventful week leading up to His death and resurrection celebrated next Sunday as Easter which regrettably, we will again celebrate in separation physically but together in our spirits.
The event begins when the two men “went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them” (Matthew 21:6-7). However trivial this errand may have seemed; it was full of biblical and theological significance. It demonstrated that Christ had come to be the King. As Matthew explains, “This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: ‘Say to the Daughter of Zion, “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” ‘ ” (Matthew 21:4-5).
The people of Israel had always understood Zechariah’s prophecy to refer to the Messiah, to God’s anointed king. The prophet said: “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). By his actions, he was saying, “Behold, thy king cometh unto thee.”
Thus, begins Holy Week or the Passion of Jesus. When most of us think of the word Passion, we think of love, desire and romance. … The true meaning of passion is “to suffer.” At its essence, passion is sacred suffering. I am afraid that we often connect “the passion” of Jesus with his physical suffering administered on Good Friday but His passion was also the exasperation and anxiety caused by the lack of understanding by his followers, the very people he had come to save and pursuit by His antagonist to ensnare and destroy Him.
Lent is a season of the liturgical year when we talk about Jesus journey to the cross. Stories not about the happy, glory days in Galilee where Jesus fed five thousand or raised the dead but the inexorable move to suffering and death. Jesus announced his passion clearly three times in the Gospels. His followers didn’t believe him, and we are hard pressed to really believe him either. To imagine him hanging on a cross is hard. Much harder to imagine is the mental agony Jesus went through because he had a choice. He did not have to go to Jerusalem where he know he would die. He did not have to accept the cup assigned to him and being fully human he did not want to suffer. His final words as he prayed in the garden “Not what I want but what you want” calls his followers (you and me) to make the right choices, even if they are difficult.
I encourage you to worship this week each day by reading the scripture given for that day and prayerfully allowing the sprit of our Lord to guide you in your growth and transformation in His likeness.
4/06 Isa. 42:1-9; Ps 36; Heb 9:11-15; John 12:1-11
4/07 Isa. 49:1-7; Ps 71:1-14; 1Cor 1:18-31; John 12:20-16
4/08 Isa. 50:4-9a; Ps 70; Heb 12:1-3; John 13:21-32
4/09 Exod. 12:1-14’ Ps 116:1-4,12-19; 1 Cor11:23-26; John 13:1-17, 31b-35
4/10 Isa. 52:13-53:12; Ps 22; Heb 10-16-25; John 18:1-19:42