Tag Archives: Palm Sunday

What Did You Expect? Sermon on Matthew 22:1-11 Palm Sunday A

April 9, 2017

So tell me, how has Jesus shown up in your life over these past five or six weeks, as we’ve been asking God to unbind our hearts? What did you expect when we began this Lenten journey, and how has reality matched your expectations? Let’s do a quick review.

First, we learned that the “E” word, Evangelism, doesn’t need to be a scary thing. Evangelism is simply sharing your faith with other people. Even a reluctant evangelist, like Ananias, can tip someone into God’s love like a domino, starting a chain reaction that can go in unexpected ways. Kris shared her story of bringing her grandchildren to church after they had questions about her Nativity set. Like Ananias, Kris tipped someone into God’s love.

We learned that, before we can effectively share our faith with others, it needs to be a healthy and mature faith. We need to develop a strong relationship with God, going deep with Jesus often in prayer. So we set up the prayer wall, and began adding our prayers to it, prayers for people and situations God had laid on our hearts.

During the third week of Lent, we looked at the trinity of relationships – our relationship with God, with each other, and with those outside our church. We saw that unresolved conflict within the church can prevent people outside the church from developing a relationship with Christ, and some of us must have started working on resolving a few conflicts, because a spirit of peace has begun to fill this place. At least one visitor has noticed this.

In week four, we learned what brought Sue into a life of faith when we played the “Who Am I?” game. We heard how our own personal story is a powerful means of bringing others to Christ. The Samaritan woman at the well showed us that the Kingdom of God is for all who believe, regardless of backgrounds, ethnic roots, or cultural differences. Christ offers living water to all, a well springing up to eternal life. And we have jars of that living water to offer to others.

Last week, the paralytic who was let down through the roof, and Lazarus who was brought up from the grave, drew our attention to barriers that prevent people from wanting to know Christ. Some barriers are internal, and others are external. Bo Wright shared his and Dru’s experiences as they looked for a church when they moved here to New Ulm, and why they settled on First Church as their church home.

All of these stories, whether from our own experiences or from the Scriptures, have something in common. In every case, God has shown up in unexpected ways. Continue reading

Palm Sunday … Passion Sunday

This is a day to let the scriptures speak for themselves. We marched in triumphantly (we had to sing through the processional hymn twice – Hosanna, Loud Hosanna!) and sang our responses to each reading, but here’s the gist of it. Grab a palm branch and read along, as we enter into Holy Week together. I’ll be posting a reflection on the daily readings throughout the week. Come, let us worship at the foot of the cross.

CALL TO WORSHIP from Psalm 18

Leader:       O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the people say,

People:       “His steadfast love endures forever!”
Leader:       This is the gate of the Lord;
People:       The righteous shall enter through it.
Leader:       The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
People:        This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
Leader:       This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!
People:       Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
                   We bless you from the house of the Lord.
Leader:       Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar.
People:       O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
                   for his steadfast love endures forever.

UNISON PRAYER

We praise you, O God, for your redemption of the world through Jesus Christ. He entered the holy city of Jerusalem in triumph and was proclaimed Messiah and King by those who spread garments and branches along his way. Just as we carry these branches, may we follow Christ in the way of the cross, that, dying and rising with him, we may enter into your kingdom, through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

GOSPEL LESSON – Matthew 21:1-11      

OLD TESTAMENT LESSON – Isaiah 50:4-9a

NEW TESTAMENT LESSON – Philippians 2:5-11

THE STORY OF THE PASSION

GOSPEL LESSONMatthew 26:14-35 

RESPONSIVE READING            Matthew 27:1-52, 54

One: Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him,
Many: ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’
One: Jesus said, ‘You say so.’ But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. Then Pilate said to him, ‘Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?’ But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.
Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them,
Men:

 

 ‘Whom do you want me to release for you, JesusBarabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?’
One: For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him,
Women: ‘Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.’
One: Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. The governor again said to them, ‘Which of the two do you want me to release for you?’ And they said,
Many: ‘Barabbas.’
One: Pilate said to them, ‘Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?’ All of them said,
Many: ‘Let him be crucified!’
One: Then he asked, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more,
Many: ‘Let him be crucified!’
One:  So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’ Then the people as a whole answered,
Women: ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’
One: So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying,
Many: ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’
One: They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; then they sat down there and kept watch over him. Over his head they put the charge against him, which read,

‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’

Men:  Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying,
Women: ‘You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’
One: In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying,
Men: ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, “I am God’s Son.” ’
One: The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.

From noon on, darkness came over the whole until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ When some of the bystanders heard it, they said,

Women: ‘This man is calling for Elijah.’
One: At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said,
Men: ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.
One: Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said,
ALL: ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’

 

 

 

The Scent of Myrrh

This afternoon, I sat with a woman who has decided it is time to die. She told me stories of her childhood, of her parents and her grandparents. She told me stories about her husband and their life together. It was a good life. She has no regrets. There are many things she doesn’t understand, but she’s done with asking questions. She’s done, period. This is a woman who has always done exactly what she set her mind to do. She has set her mind now to die.

I didn’t want to tell her that deciding it is time to die and actually doing the business of dying are two different things. From what I’ve seen, dying is hard work. I remember another woman, who lay on her deathbed for weeks. When she awoke one morning, she exclaimed, “Oh no, I’m still here!” When I asked how I could pray for her, she answered, “Just ask Jesus to bring me home.” She was ready for death, but death was not quite ready for her.

This afternoon, I anointed a woman’s forehead and hands with oil, scented with myrrh.  We prayed together for God to give her peace. In less than a week, I will anoint congregants’ hands with that same oil as part of Good Friday worship. Myrrh was one of the spices brought to Jesus when he was a baby. It was probably one of the spices brought by Joseph of Arimathea to prepare his body for burial. The beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, wrapped in the same perfume.

Tomorrow, we will wave palms and enter into Holy Week. The joyous shouts of “Hosanna!” will change to “Crucify him!” The hard work of Christ’s death will be described in vivd detail as the week progresses. Once again, we will enter into the mystery of death that becomes life, the finite becoming infinite, as we move toward Easter. But before we can fully experience the joy of resurrection, we must walk through the valley of the shadow of death. And it is hard work.