Friday from First! 4/3/2020
See Jesus. Show Jesus. Share Jesus.
Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday?
I've been pondering this week that word we like to shout together on Palm Sunday: "Hosanna!" I've always heard it as a cry of triumph. I imagine the people lined up along the road coming down from the Mount of Olives into the city of Jerusalem. They can see the garden of Gethsemane at the top of the hill, the cemetery on the hillside, and the Beautiful Gate in the city wall that leads directly into the Temple. This is where they believe Messiah will come to rule over them as King David once did.
In 2020 hindsight, I know that their shouts of joy are misguided, that those shouts will turn into "Crucify him!" before the week is out. But in this moment, they really believe they are welcoming their new King. And I want to shout with them ... until I realize something I missed before, or at least didn't give much attention. It's that word, "Hosanna."
It literally means, "Lord, save." Lord, save us! It isn't a cry of joy - it's a cry of desperation.
You may be grieving many things right now - the loss of worshiping in our sanctuary together might be pretty low on your list, and that's okay. A pandemic puts everything else in a different perspective. The cry of "Lord, save us!" takes on a completely new meaning.
So I invite you to do something this Sunday, whether you worship on Facebook Live with us, or tune into a more professionally produced service from some other church, or simply take the opportunity to sleep in on Sunday and get some much-needed rest from all the COVID-19 news. I invite you to put a 'palm branch' at your front door.
It can be any kind of 'branch' - since it still feels like winter here in Minnesota, you might have trouble finding a 'green' one with actual leaves on it. But you can download and color this one provided by Illustrated Ministry (that comes with a children's bulletin and other faith formation resources for Palm Sunday). Or make your own out of cardboard or recycled newspapers... it doesn't really matter what you use! The point is that we can show our neighbors we are calling on God to save us. And we believe Jesus is the one to do it, just as surely as those people lined along the road 2000 years ago did. Put your branch over your door, or hang it from the hook you use for your Christmas wreath, or tape it into your front window. Then pray for your neighbors who will see it, and let your 'Hosanna' become your prayer of praise.
Meanwhile, know that this Sunday has also become known as "Passion Sunday" and we will be reading the story of Christ's betrayal, trial, and crucifixion together. Jesus didn't go directly from that procession into Jerusalem to resurrection glory. He had to go through Gethsemane, Pilate's courtyard, Golgotha, and the tomb first. We do, too, if Easter is to make any sense at all. If you want a Palm Sunday sermon read this from Jill Duffield. Then join us at 9:30 Sunday morning on our Facebook page to hear the rest of the story. See you there!
CHRIST THE LORD IS RISEN TODAY!
There is a movement on social media to join with Christians everywhere on Easter Morning at 8 AM to sing Wesley's great Easter Hymn, Christ the Lord is Risen Today. Go stand on your porch or in your driveway, and belt out at least the first stanza - go ahead and wake the neighbors! Then be sure to shout "The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!" And if you aren't comfortable doing your own singing, you can play this version from the Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, NC Easter Processional 2014. It has all the bells and whistles! (It also has the full lyrics in the comments). Get ready to sing!
Join us on Facebook for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday worship from our home to yours - 7 pm both nights. You can also use the DIY version of these services found on our church website. Either way, know that God is with you as you worship.
The church has left the building!
Here's my "study" right now. What does your 'work from home' space look like? Have you improvised a 'green screen' for Zoom meetings? This one is made from PVC pipe and fabric (left over from Diaper Depot screens) and masking tape! However you have made your home into an office or a schoolroom, know that we are still connected to one another in Christ Jesus.
I'm praying for you, Church! - Pastor Jo Anne