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03.25.18 A Glimpse of Discipleship Mark 15:16-25 Sermon Summary

by on March 27, 2018

Holy Week proclaims God’s Word through images and pictures. It begins with the scene of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey, with crowds of adoring people waving palm branches and singing praises to God. It ends with the horror of the Cross. In between there are turning tables, imprinted coins, and broken bread.

We begin Holy Week after “Walking with Jesus” these past six weeks. With the Gospel of Mark as our guide, we started by naming our unclean spirits. We watched Jesus feed more than 5000 people. We overheard his teaching about baptism, and observed an act of true faith at the house of Simon the Leper.

Now here we are on Palm Sunday. The liturgical origins of this day are in the 4th century when Christian pilgrims went to Jerusalem to walk the path of Jesus during Holy Week. The idea spread to Rome by 11th century, culminating in local liturgies like the Stations of the Cross which emulated the Jerusalem walks. It was repopularized in the 1960s with the Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church.

This year I shared with a colleague about Palm Sunday that, “I don’t like it.” “Do you have something against parades in general, or are you trying to do too much?” was the response. It’s the “too much” option for me.

It’s been a relatively recent development that this Sunday has come to be called “Palm-slash-Passion Sunday.” Many preachers and churches make a choice. We either celebrate Palm Sunday and hope people will remember that Jesus dies before next Sunday’s Easter service. Or we don’t acknowledge Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem and instead present the events of Good Friday on a Sunday.

Some of us try to compress a whole week (“Holy Week”) into one day—one hour! We refer to Jesus’ entrance, the conflict with authorities, his last supper, the betrayal, and his crucifixion. How do you include it all? We can’t of course. A handful of us will return later this week to give these events due commemoration. But most Christians get at best a Holy Week Sampler plate today on Palm and/or Passion Sunday.

The truth is, every Sunday is a celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. It’s why we come to the table each week, because the living Christ is still our host. So every Sunday we proclaim the good news of God’s love and presence in our lives.

But to fully grasp the good news of resurrection we have to be honest about the reality of death. So every Sunday we also bring our world of death and decay with us: Confessing our sins, and offering our prayers to our high priest, the sacrificed but resurrected Christ.

Come to think of it, perhaps on no other Sunday do we do this better than on Palm Sunday. So maybe it’s not so bad after all. We’ve begun this Holy Week singing praises and waving palms. We’ll conclude our worship at the Table of the risen Lord. But in the meantime, for the next several minutes, we will take a glimpse of discipleship through Ray Bolz’ song Watch the Lamb.

And now at the Table of the Lord we pray:

We give you thanks for the many reminders of life with which you have endowed our worship this morning, from palms to children to springtime lambs. We rejoice with our Jewish brothers and sisters, including Jesus, who celebrated Passover this time of year, giving thanks for crops and for your deliverance from Egypt. We thank you for the Passover lamb, whose life was sacrificed in order to claim your people for salvation and service in the world.

We give you thanks for Jesus, our Passover Lamb, and the one whose sacrifice demonstrated to the whole world your commitment to life. With the crowds of old we shout, “Hosanna—Save us Lord!” for we are in need of saving. We need the salvation that comes from his teaching that the greatest among us shall be the servants of all, that the meek shall inherit the earth, and that all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but those who take upon themselves his yoke, and his cross, shall find rest and be exalted.

Send your Spirit upon us we pray, and upon these gifts of bread and wine, that we may be blessed not only by the remembrance of Christ the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, but by our union with him through the sacrament of his body and blood. Anoint us with your Spirit, mark us as your own, and sustain us for the week ahead. May we watch and pray with Christ, even as he watches over and prays for us. For Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again. Amen.

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