Palm Sunday, March 29, 2015

Title:Palm Sunday, March 29, 2015

 Palm Sunday, March 29, 2015   (full size gallery)

Our Palm Sunday weather was not spring-like except for the sun which was glorious. The temperature was in the high 40’s and reached the low 50’s. Last year it was in the 70’s but Palm Sunday was 3 weeks later. All the daffodils are out. Some Osprey have made it back to Port Royal to nest. The river was glorious at low tide. The service bulletin is here. The lectionary readings are here

We had 47 but a smaller number for the Litany of the Palms. This year we had various noise makers including a cymbal to increase and highlight the fanfare.

An enthusiastic "All Glory Laud and Honor" started the service after the Litany of the Palms procession. It was written in exile by Theodulf of Orléans in 820.

The Passion reading was done similar to 2012 with a number of readers with music interlude. This was not based on characters. The passion readings are here

Catherine did not have a sermon but did a homily at the beginning. It focused on the concept of love in Holy week despite the tragedy – the annointing at Bethany, the Last Supper, Jesus toward God and the Centurion. Each forgot their own needs and served the other.

In his account of the passion story, Mark is constantly working to shape the story so that all the major themes of his gospel emerge. Jesus the powerful teacher and miracle worker—the Christ—must suffer. He will be misunderstood and completely abandoned by his disciples as the hatred of the Temple leaders triumphs. But in Jesus’ own weakness, the power of God can be present to bring salvation.

Mark’s account is not an appeal to pity, sorrow or even repentance. He is concerned about its message of salvation and God’s purpose at work in the midst of the passion. The response called forth is faith.

Mark stresses Jesus’ utter loneliness, deserted by his disciples—even Peter. When formally confronted by the high priest, Jesus makes a clear proclamation of his status and destiny. The dark path of the passion is the way to God. Jesus’ true identity is recognized by gazing on the crucified Christ and affirming with the centurion that “this man was God’s Son!”

We celebrated Dave Duke’s birthday. 

Catherine noted the services this week as way to participate in the changing nature of the story.  We have three services this week – Wed (Tenebrae), Thurs (Maunday Thursday), and Friday (Good Friday) all at 7pm as well as Easter Sunday at 11am. A description of the services is here.

Commentary for Canon Lance Ousley, Diocese of Olympia

The readings for Palm Sunday B include the Liturgy of the Palms with Mark 11:1-11 or John 12;12-16, and Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; and the Liturgy of the Passion with Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; and Mark 14:1-15:47 or Mark 15:1-39, (40-47).

I don’t expect anyone to give a stewardship sermon in the context of Palm Sunday and Holy Week, but it is worth looking at the idols presented in the texts and in our culture with which we wrestle in our lives that get in the way of our stewardship.

I am struck in the Liturgy of the Palms by the lack of resistance the disciples encounter in procuring the donkey for Jesus to use for his triumphal entry. It raises a question for me, "What kind of stewardship understanding must have these people had to allow their donkey to be taken from its hitch for the use of the Lord?" This is quite a contrast to our culture’s overwhelming sense of ownership. I find this an interesting precursor to the conflict of the powers and principalities of this world that are about to be challenged by the one who humbles oneself and shirks all notions of world power.

The contrast between Jesus’ triumphal entry on one end of the city is paralleled by what historians tells us that was happening on the other side of Jerusalem as a Roman procession gave glorious military homage to Pilate as he rode into the city on a stallion displaying the power and principality of what I’ll call Romanism (worldly culture), all to exhibit their power to crush any thought of uprising.

The whole interplay in the Liturgy of the Passion challenges our worldly notion of what power really is, let alone Truth! We may not preach stewardship this Sunday but the whole drama is rotating on the axis between worldly power and heavenly peace confronting our cultural sensibilities. Jesus ironically exhibits power in his vulnerability. Pilate, the Chief Priests and Scribes all represent those who clamor for power through the principles of worldly means. But Jesus shows us that true power is found in giving up of oneself.

Even in Jesus’ weakness, falling on the way to Calvary, we understand him to have power as one stranger know as Simon of Cyrene, takes up his cross for him in the wake of his "triumphal exit" out to Golgotha for his crucifixion.

We may not be preaching or teaching about "stewardship" this Sunday or this week, but all of these issues are at the root of our decision to be faithful stewards this week and every week.

In the end the question for us all is, "From where do we find our power to live fully in this world?" Do we derive it from worldly powers and principalities, or do we derive it from the cross? In the way of the Cross we find the abundance of life God intends for us, and from that we can share the blessings. The other pseudo-source of powers and principalities just demands more and more from us never relieving us of the burden of these idols.

I wonder which role we each play in the drama that unfolds before us this Passion Sunday; who or what will be the object of our worship?

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