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A Different Holy Week

Lent is coming to an end as we enter into Holy Week.
Reflecting on this Lenten season, I must echo two sentiments from Facebook.

  1. I had not planned to give this much up for Lent; and
  2. This is the most Lenty Lent I have ever Lented.

These are honest, authentic statements and honest authenticity is why I love Lent.

This experience of social distancing, isolating, and quarantining during Lent is leading to a Holy Week and Easter that is unprecedented within our time and place, BUT perhaps biblical and authentic.

On Palm Sunday, I often invite us into the experience of Holy Week through the scriptures of both Palm Sunday and the Passion, which ignores Jesus’ final week. Thus, I invite us to experience the fullness through services on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and this year an Easter Vigil on Saturday evening. And yet, if we are honest, our lives remain oddly normal with the exception of those minutes or hours.

But, this year our lives and our world are not normal.

  • We are social distancing.
  • We are social isolating.
  • We find ourselves locked away within our homes, alone or with limited companionship.
  • We are uncertain about the next days, weeks, or perhaps months.
  • We are uncertain about employment, businesses, and the economy of our communities and beyond.
  • We are uncertain about medical supplies, food supply, and other essentials needed.

Yes. This year is not normal, but neither was the first Holy Week.

Jesus arrived in Jerusalem for the Passover Festival.
He was received as the main attraction for a welcoming parade with the shouts of ‘Hosanna’, but ‘Hosanna’ is literally ‘Save Us’. It was as much a lament and demand for revolution as it was a celebration.

And that was only the beginning…

After this welcome, Jesus goes to the temple and proceeds to cause quite the scene.
Jesus forces those conducting business in the temple out.
Jesus flips over tables and proclaims they have turned the temple into a den of robbers.

And I thought I had a temper.

Then, the lame and the blind enter into the temple where Jesus heals them.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday Jesus is teaching in the temple to the dismay and increasing contempt of the religious authorities, who question Jesus’ authority to teach. This intensifies the desire of the religious elite to end Jesus’ public ministry and the revolution it is inciting, but due to his popularity it would require his death.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday Jesus is also intensifying his teaching of the disciples.

Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anoints Jesus with costly perfume to the dismay of Judas, who decides to betray Christ.

Thursday begins the great Three Days.

Jesus demonstrates humble service to one another through the unpleasant task of foot washing, despite knowledge that an intimate friend as conspired to betray him into the hands of those who will put him to death by the brutal means of crucifixion. And yet, Jesus remains the teacher not in word alone but also in deed.

Then, Jesus gives a so-called ‘new’ commandment to love one another, not as we love ourselves because that has a loophole for we do not always love ourselves, but rather as HE, unconditional love incarnated into human flesh and blood, first loved his most beloved, intimate disciples.

Then, speaking of flesh and blood, Jesus institutes Holy Communion, by which the common elements of bread and wine become his body and blood in an everlasting covenant that is a force of grace nourishing, energizing, and encouraging us to lovingly serve the world at all times, in all places.

That night, Jesus is betrayed by Judas, abandoned by all, and denied by Peter.

Friday, Jesus is convicted. Jesus is beaten until near death.
Jesus is hung upon a cross: condemned, mocked, and crucified.
Jesus died. Jesus is laid in a tomb.

Saturday, the disciples are small in number.
The disciples are hidden in a small, dark room fearful and uncertain about the future.
Their desires, hopes, and dreams of salvation, of being saved, all those sweet ‘Hosannas’ were laid in a tomb with Jesus, their beloved friend, Rabbi, and hoped Messiah.

Perhaps, the differences of this Holy Week…

  • our intimate families,
  • our isolating rooms and homes,
  • our fears and uncertainties…

may be the most honest and authentic Holy Week, similar to early Christianity, within our lifetime.

May we embrace the opportunity in mind, body, and soul
to more deeply experience Holy Week,
connecting with the disciples and
with Christ during his final days before crucifixion and death.
Amen.

Scriptures were Matthew 21: 1-11; Matthew 26:14 – 27:66.
Pre-Recorded (4-3-2020) for digital use (4-5-2020) by Trinity Lutheran (Union City, IN)
 
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Posted by on April 5, 2020 in Sermons

 

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Anti-Authority for a Cause

As I read the scriptures earlier this week and while listening again to Luke’s account of Jesus’ final week, days, and minutes, I was reminded of its anti-empire and anti-authority tone.

This tone is not intended to paint Jesus, Luke, or his community as anti-authority punks or rebel without a cause.

The cause was shared in the opening pages of Luke’s Gospel.
The cause is central and foundational throughout the whole.
The cause is the Grand Reversal.

You may recall the Magnificat that Mary sung, which proclaimed it.
You may recall Jesus reading Isaiah in his hometown synagogue, which proclaimed it.
You may recall Jesus’ teaching of the blessings and the woes, which proclaimed it.

But, the Grand Reversal is not a simplistic inverting of the entire field. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2019 in Sermons

 

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Journey to the Cross: an Invitation to Holy Week

Welcome to the beginning of Holy Week.

Holy Week is a powerful time in our church year and within our life of faith, but it is also a challenging week.

I have been thinking about how our gospel this morning (and week) is exactly what creates best-selling novels and movies. It has the full range of human emotion.

It has the joyful and triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

It has the hope of Jesus’ followers. The hope that he was the Messiah, the Anointed One, that they had been long awaiting to reunite the tribes of Israel and to take his throne establishing a reign that would not end.

It has the betrayal from one of the most inner-part of Jesus’ circle (of disciples/followers).

It has the denial of another from the most inner-circle of Jesus’ disciples.

If you noticed in our scripture this morning, the disciples and those following Christ are mentioned “at a distance”. It is as though they wanted to separate themselves from the one that would be shamed and disgraced by death upon a cross. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2018 in Sermons

 

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Dark Room or Tomb?

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Sunday was Palm Sunday and we celebrated it as both Palm and Passion Sunday, embracing the whole of Holy Week primarily focusing on Maundy Thursday [and] Good Friday.

We begun the service with Christ entering triumphantly into the holy city and making preparations for Passover, which Passover this year begins today for our Jewish brothers and sisters.

We begun with our service with that, but we quickly moved to Maundy Thursday with Holy Communion and then moved into Good Friday: the betrayal of Judas, the arrest of Christ, the denial of Peter, the passion/the punishment/the physical endurance of Christ prior to being crucified and then Christ crucified. We ended the service with Christ’s body laying in the dark tomb.

How do you preach such a range of emotions? I primarily let the scriptural readings, the covering of our symbols, the bringing forth of the items from the crucifixion do most of the ‘proclaiming of the Word’.

But, Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2017 in Sermon Summaries

 

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Passion Sunday: Why did Jesus “Have” to Die?

This morning mirrors the over-whelming emotional & liturgical roller-coaster awaiting us, which cannot be fully embraced or experienced in one worship service.

This morning we experience the best of humanity, processing in worship with palm branches remembering the triumphant shouts of joy welcoming our Messiah-King into the holy city of Jerusalem. Yet, we also experience the worst of humanity bearing witness to that same Messiah-King crucified and placed within a tomb.

These ‘high’ Sundays in the liturgical/church year often bear witness to those seeking answers to the difficult questions of faith. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2015 in Sermons

 

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