Today, we encounter the paradox that defines our faith: Jesus Christ is glorified king and humiliated servant. We, too, are full of paradox: like Peter, we fervently desire to follow Christ, but find ourselves afraid, denying God. We wave palms in celebration today as Christ comes into our midst, and we follow with trepidation as his path leads to death on the cross.
Amid it all we are invited into this paradoxical promise of life through Christ’s broken body and out-poured love in a meal of bread and wine. We begin this week that stands at the center of the Church year, anticipating the completion of God’s astounding work.
The voice of the suffering savior, Jesus, can be heard in the prophet Isaiah’s words and the pleading of the psalm. We are invited into the agony of our Lord in the extended reading of the story of Jesus’ passion. In the second reading, we who have put on Christ in holy baptism are urged to let the mind of Christ be our own. Lent leads us to this holy moment. Embrace it.
The good news today and every day is that God’s gracious love is poured out through Christ apart from any accounting of which crowd we stand in or which word is coming from our lips. When we think about it, we really are gathered together not through our commitment to Christ but through Christ’s commitment to us. That promise is made to us in Baptism, where God marks us forever as God’s own. And it is with this promise that we walk through the moments of this week, knowing that in all things Christ has chosen to stand by us.
PROCESSIONAL GOSPEL: Matthew 21: 1-11
FIRST READING: Isaiah 50: 4-9a
This text, the third of the four Servant Songs in Isaiah, speaks of the servant’s obedience in the midst of persecution. Though the servant has been variously understood as the prophet himself or a remnant of faithful Israel, Christians have often recognized the figure of Christ in these poems.
PSALM: Psalm 31: 9-16
SECOND READING: Philippians 2: 5-11
Paul quotes from an early Christian hymn that describes the humble obedience of Jesus in his incarnation as a human being, even to death, and his exaltation and glory as Lord of all.
PASSION NARRATIVE: Luke 22-23
40 DAYS OF GIVING
Farmers and others who make their living working the land know the intimate relationship between humans and the rest of God’s good creation. Dependent on soil, water, sunlight and more, farming reminds us of both God’s abundant provision and the interconnections between humans and the rest of creation.
Scripture, too, reminds us of these connections.
As the ancient Hebrews journey from Egypt, they do so in hopes of a fertile land from which they will be able to draw sustenance. In many of the parables of Jesus, creation serves as an illustration for God and God’s coming reign. Despite how far we have come in knowledge and technological advancement, this remains true: we will not survive without the rest of creation.
All of creation rises and falls together. For some, that truth is lived every day. For others, it may be easier to forget our dependence on the creation God has provided — and the responsible stewardship of it to which we are called.
As we journey in hope toward Easter, we are reminded in Holy Scripture of God’s promise that salvation is not for humans alone but for all of creation, which “groans” until God’s reign shall come in fullness.
Our hope is an active hope, though, and we know that God has called us to work now, tending to both human communities and all of creation.
Please keep these people in your prayers: Esther Mae Baker, Pastor Larry Baker, Al Bausch, Dortha Feddern, Wesley and JoAnn Porter. Please remember all of our shut-ins and sick. (Also, pray for the families and caretakers of those on the prayer list.)
THE BREAKFAST BUNCH
“The Breakfast Bunch” meets the first Saturday of every month at Der Dutchman in Plain City, at 8:30 a.m. “Come one, Come all” for a great breakfast, fellowship and more!
Please check the bulletin board behind the office door for all of the sign-up sheets for this year. Communion, birthday Sundays, and Worship Assistants/helpers. Thank you so much!
You can also remember special occasions or special people by contributing money that would normally be used for altar flowers. Instead the donation goes to our local food pantry.
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Zion Lutheran Church
230 Cemetery Road (West Jefferson Community Center) w P.O. Box 4 w
West Jefferson, OH 43162 w 614-879-8107
Reaching in for the Holy Spirit, reaching up for God's grace, reaching out with Christ's love.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ and friends of Zion:
I would imagine that many of you have seen the news story or images of Pope Francis praying alone in St. Peter’s Square this past weekend. As a steady rain fell, he delivered his “Urbi et orbi” blessing, one which is traditionally given on celebratory occasions like Christmas and Easter. But this was no celebration, and in a situation when an event that would normally draw large crowds from across the world, Pope Francis spoke these words alone as Vatican City is also on lock-down and isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Although it was a tremendously powerful scene, it just didn’t look quite right. But, not much looks as we have come to expect these days. We will celebrate Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week this Sunday unlike any we’ve celebrated before. Alone, in our homes and not among one another with shouts of “Hosanna!” as we wave palm branches to celebrate the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.
It seems each of us would have scripted this time of our church calendar much differently than it is actually playing itself out. But, then again, we aren’t asked to write the way it should go. We have only been asked to respond to what is happening.
As I saw Pope Francis alone in prayer, I thought of our own shared current circumstances of solitude within our homes. But more importantly, I thought of the numerous scriptural passages when Jesus removed Himself from the crowds and sought solitude to be in prayer. The solitude and silence of Jesus is found throughout the Gospels. We need to learn from Jesus’ example of this intimacy with God. This ongoing intimacy with God at these moments of His ministry was the source of His compassion, wisdom and power. Jesus made these moments a priority.
We can look upon our current isolation from one another and much of the outside World as something tragic. And indeed, much of it is. No one wants to see people acquiring a potentially fatal virus. No one wants fears and uncertainties to play such a large role in our daily lives. No one wants to see people lose their jobs due to the closing of offices and stores, and students unable to attend school to learn and grow. But we can also choose to see this isolation as time to seek Him within our solitude, in prayer, with no distractions. Time we otherwise would not have made for Him. Now we have the opportunity to do so. What could possibly stand in our way at this time?
I continue to pray for the health and well-being of you all. I am also prayerful that any loneliness felt in this time of isolation is replaced by that intimacy Jesus sought with God, that same intimacy we each may seek as well. Continue your worship Palm Sunday, and each day, whether by viewing online services, those on TV or perhaps moments alone in prayer or reading scriptures.
As we have proven on our Sundays together, it’s not the number of people gathering that’s important, it is our focus in worshipping Him in all that we do. Give thanks and glory and worship in all you do.