Prayer: Help us, Lord, to prepare our hearts and minds for next week as we meet you on the cross. Amen.
Reading: Isaiah 50:4-9 (Click to read text)
Stop and GROW: After reading the text, discuss/ponder the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Book of Faith questions, which are part of Camp Mount Luther's GROW Time with campers.
QUESTION 1: What scares, confuses, challenges, or doesn’t make sense to me in this text?
QUESTION 2: What delights me in this text or is my favorite part of the story?
QUESTION 3: What stories or memories does this text stir in me?
QUESTION 4: What is God up to in this text?
Reflection: I have mixed feelings about this Sunday. Growing up, my congregation always celebrated this Sunday as Palm Sunday. We received palms and waved them, recreating Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. We sang songs like “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” and remembered the shouts of “Hosanna” in those streets. It was a glorious festival day, celebrating good times.
In more recent years, I’ve been in congregations who recognize Palm Sunday but use it as “Passion Sunday,” reading the whole passion story. I’ve been uncomfortable with that, as I think, “That time will come. Let’s get to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil. Let’s not rush things. Let’s take this one day at time.”
Then again, growing up, I was in church on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights of Holy Week. I heard the story of Jesus’ passion as it unfolded. I pondered each day. I only wanted to take it a day at a time, reflecting on each important event.
These days, I’m sure that most people in Christian churches are not in the pew on those other nights during Holy Week. So hearing the passion story on Palm Sunday is important. We need to be reminded of this all-important story of our faith.
In our verse today from Isaiah, we are reminded that Jesus did not shy away from the grim realities of this week. He faced it as it came. He did cry out to God to take away the cup if that was God’s will; but, it was not.
And so this Sunday, when I got to church and hear the passion story, I will listen and remember, too. I will take the hard realities of this story and ponder them throughout the week. I will still remember each day of Holy Week and what happened, but I will also remember the whole picture. And, I will look forward to the story that I’ll hear the following Sunday as I once again celebrate the resurrection. “Hosanna in the Highest!” --Chad Hershberger
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