Tag Archives: Palm Sunday

Ash Wednesday Prayer Service

1 Mar

Ash Wednesday is next week, March 6. We have prepared an Ash Wednesday prayer service for those of you who cannot make it to church or who would like to celebrate with the homebound or those in nursing homes.

If you have a little bit of palm from last Palm Sunday, burn it to make the ashes. Or write down a way you wish to grow during Lent and then burn that paper to create ashes.

Visit goodgroundpress.com for more resources to make Lent a blessed time for yourself and for those you love and serve.

Are We Rome?

3 Apr
Photo via Flickr user Lawrence OP

Photo via Flickr user Lawrence OP

 

Happy Holy Week to you, one and all.

On Palm Sunday, we imagined Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. We wondered what this procession of palms may have looked like. Was it to fulfill a prophecy? How many people caught the reference to Zachariah in the moment? Was it, as Crossan and Borg argue in The Last Week, a procession to challenge the Imperial Procession of Pilate and counter the dominating system? Pilate’s procession symbolized Roman military, theology and political might. Was Jesus reminding us that God’s kingdom counters that of worldly domination?

Did Jesus know what he would find when he got to the temple?

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers. –Matthew 21:12-23

We imagine Jesus turning over tables and try to reconcile his anger with our ideas of his perfection. What, today, is worth our righteous anger? Are we complicit in the dominating system of our day that Jesus was countering by riding in from the East on a donkey?

On Palm Sunday, the youth in our congregation make and sell Cinnamon Rolls in celebration of Holy Week and to raise money for our summer work trips. We pictured Jesus, having to pass our table where money was being exchanged on his way to the sanctuary for worship. Would he turn over our table and call our gallery a den of robbers?

“I’d like to think Jesus would buy a cinnamon roll from us,” a ninth grader said.

Yet the image lingers. Would Jesus turn over my table in anger? This Holy Week, I’m wondering what procession I am truly taking part in. If Jesus’ journey into Jerusalem to die was really about, in part, countering the violence, power and glory of the dominating empire that ruled the world at that time, how can I follow him more closely today?

Gospel Reflection for April 13, 2014, Palm/Passion Sunday

7 Apr

About three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud tone, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”  This means, “My God, my God.  Why have you forsaken me?”

Matthew 27.46


The events of the passion test and manifest Jesus’ love for God, for the world, for his friends, and for the community that still gathers in his name.  Jesus endures not only the pain and shame of crucifixion but one friend’s betrayal, another’s denial, and God’s seeming abandonment.

When have you found Jesus with you in times of betrayal or suffering or seeming abandonment?

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A New Lent

6 Mar

At my grandparents’ house, yellowed palm leaves were seemingly ever-present behind the silver-framed mirror that hung on the wall near their front door. Immediately after Palm Sunday, the palms would add a splash of green to the mauves and light blues of the room. Yet as the church year wore on, the palms would fade to better match my grandma’s decorating taste. We always knew Lent was approaching when the palms disappeared, returned to my grandparents’ church to be burned into the ashes that would be distributed on Ash Wednesday.

via flickr user Stephen Cummings

via flickr user Stephen Cummings

Seeing the empty space behind my grandparents’ mirror always hit me in the pit of my stomach. I have always loved Advent, the season of joyful preparation for and grateful anticipation of the coming of Christ’s birth. Advent is a season I can nestle into, my excitement for Christmas mounting as the days grow shorter. But if Advent is my favorite church season, Lent is the polar opposite. Rather than a cozy winter’s night, Lent feels more like the desert into which the Spirit drives Jesus in this week’s Gospel—long, barren, desolate, and drab. It is not that I mind abstaining from meat on Fridays; it’s a great excuse to drive through McDonalds for fish fillets and fries. It is more that I do not like the feeling of Lent—the feeling of being down in the mouth, the attitude of being hard on yourself, and the undertone of punishing yourself for your sinful ways.

Lent is a season of conversion, and this year what I want to convert is my attitude toward Lent. I figure that Lent has been around a lot longer than I have, so maybe I just need to learn a little more about it in order to find a new way to approach this season. That is what I am going to do over the next six weeks in this blog. Each week I will consider a topic related to Lent, presenting some information about it as well as some ideas about how that aspect of Lent makes sense in our modern lives.

Recently I read something that already is renewing my attitude toward Lent. The key to understanding the Lenten season is Baptism. On a practical level, Lent is the time when catechumens, that is, those wishing to become part of the Church, prepare for the Sacraments of Initiation—Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation—that will be celebrated at the Easter Vigil. For the rest of us, that is, those who already have been baptized into the Church, Lent is a time to renew our baptismal commitments. When I think about Lent as a time to focus intensely on living my baptismal vows, it sounds like something I might be capable of doing.

As you begin the season of Lent, take a minute to think with me about our baptismal vows. How are you living them in your life right now? In what ways are you falling short?

  • Do you reject Satan? And all his works? And all his empty promises?
  • Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
  • Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?
  • Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?

If you answered no to some of these questions, or had questions about the questions (Do people still believe in Satan? Is there really a resurrection of the body?), that might be the place to begin your Lenten journey. Write down the questions you have; find someone you trust to talk to about your questions. Questions are a part of faith; we do not need to be afraid to bring our questions to God in prayer.

If you answered yes to some or all of these questions, then there is another question: are you living these beliefs? If you are anything like me, this is where your Lenten journey begins. I might be able to say I believe all of these things, but…

  • Do I really live as if evil has no power or do I live in fear of evil?
  • Do I put my trust in God the Creator or do I trust in myself more?
  • Do I treat the world and everyone in it as part of God’s good creation?
  • Do I follow the example of Jesus Christ in how I treat others?
  • Do I really live as if Jesus died and was resurrected, ushering the new kingdom of God and releasing a well spring of hope?
  • Do I trust that the Spirit empowers me to follow in Christ’s footsteps?
  • Do I participate in the community of the Church, which includes all the faithful who have lived before us?
  • Do I treat myself as a sinner or as someone whose sins have been and will continue to be forgiven by God?

Gospel Reflection for March 24, Palm/Passion Sunday

18 Mar

 “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.”  After Jesus said this, he died.

Luke 23.46

How can a man who is crucified be God’s messiah who comes to save people and bring them new life?  Jesus, who dies the death of a criminal, isn’t even powerful enough to save himself.  The first Christian preachers had to face mockers’ questions: How can Jesus be the king of the Jews, the messiah of God, God’s chosen one?  If he is, he would have the power to save himself or God would save him.

What are your questions about the Jesus’ crucifixion?

Gospel Reflection for April 1st, Palm/Passion Sunday

27 Mar

Hosanna!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Mark 11.9

Holy Week begins by celebrating Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem with palms and songs that express honor and praise.  In the Palm Sunday gospel and in the “Holy, Holy, Holy” at every Eucharist, Christians identify Jesus as the one who comes in the name of God and inherits God’s promises to David.  Mark’s gospel fills the narrative with clues that Jesus is the messiah.

What in the Holy Week liturgies expresses who Jesus is for you?

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