Watching for the Morning of March 29, 2015
Palm Sunday / The Sunday of the Passion
Sunday, the young person carrying the cross representing Christ in our midst, will leads us in procession from our picnic area up to the sanctuary, She will stop at the closed doors of the church, knock loudly and cry out with the words of the psalm: “Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.”
It is a symbolic gesture that reminds us of Jesus coming to Jerusalem to claim the allegiance of the city. Jesus’ arrival on a donkey amidst shouts of acclamation was a claim to kingship, following the ancient pattern of Judah’s kings coming up from the Jordan and knocking at the door of the temple.
With those three loud knocks the usher will throw open the doors so that the cross and the crowd may enter. He will answer the crucifer’s request with the words that are also from our psalm:
“This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through them.”
I will call out to the crowd:
“The stone which the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone!”
And the people will answer:
“This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes!”
In that simple yet profound action lies the most important question for any congregation’s life: Is Christ welcome in our midst? Is our door open to him? Do we recognize him as the Lord of our sanctuary? Do we rejoice in his presence?
The answer to that question is never truly clear. Every parish, of course, claims to belong to Christ. But what we claim does not always match what we are. Jerusalem was the city of God. The leaders of the city and temple believed that all they did was for the glory of God. But the story that follows is one of rejection and murder. The Christ is slain, not welcomed.
Palm Sunday – the Sunday of the Passion – is great fun. The gathering before worship with coffee and hot cross buns, the children escorting the cross and the energy of the procession with palms, the singing of “All Glory, Laud and Honor” as we crowd into the sanctuary – it’s delightful. But it all contains a serious question. And that question is not only whether the congregation receives Christ with joy, but whether each of us welcomes him as our true and eternal king. For the kingship of Jesus is not like the British monarch – good theater, parades, and a benevolent smile on a variety of good works – Christ has come to reign. Christ has come to do the actual governing: to be the prime minister, the house of Lords and the house of commons, to set policy and practice.
Christ knocks at the door to claim our allegiance. Christ has come to govern our hearts and our lives. Christ has come to make us sons and daughters of God.
For our daily Lent devotion from Los Altos Lutheran church, and for sermons and other information on Lent see our Lent site.
Our theme this Lent is Renewal, and for the final week in Lent: Renewing the World with Faith, Hope and Love
The Prayer for March 29, 2015
As Jesus came to Jerusalem, O God,
the crowds were overcome with hope and joy.
Watch over us,
renewing our lives and our world
that we may receive him as our true Lord and King
and prove faithful to him and to all
in lives of Faith. Hope and Love;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever
The Texts for March 29, 2015
Processional Gospel Mark 11:1-11
“’Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it.’” – Jesus arranges to enter Jerusalem as the kings of old, and a great crowd responds with cries of acclamation.
Processional Psalmody: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
“Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.” – A song of salvation from an ancient festival in Israel as the community enters through the gates into the temple, rejoicing in God’s deliverance.
Gospel Mark 14:1-16:8
“It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.” – The climax and center of Mark’s Gospel is the sequence of events in Jerusalem when Jesus is arrested and crucified.
Reading: Philippians 2:5-11
“He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.” – An early Christian hymn reciting the humiliation and exaltation of Jesus. It is used by Paul to remind the community of the mind of Christ and to call them to abide in his Spirit.