Sunday of the Passion (Palm Sunday) – March 29, 2015
Mass at 11:00 AM. Readings: Procession with Palms: Mark 11:1-11; Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Mark 14:1-15:47. Pastor George Detweiler will preside and preach.
The Sunday of the Passion is the only one of the church year where the first two lessons and psalm are the same every year: only the gospels – both processional and passion – change from year to year. (The word “passion” here refers to the intensity of the events.)
In the liturgy itself, we enact the drama of salvation. We begin by re-enacting Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem with palm branched and hosannas. Once we have entered the symbolic Jerusalem of the church building and have prayed the Prayer of the Day, the mood begins to shift. The reading from Isaiah 50 is the third of the four “Songs of the Suffering Servant” of Isaiah. The servant willingly submits to persecution because the Lord helps him and will vindicate his suffering. Psalm 31:9-16 is a plea for God’s help in the face of persecution.
Philippians 2:5-11 is Paul’s presentation of an early Christian creedal hymn and provides a powerful theological comment on the passion. The old Adam grasped at equality with God, tried to fill himself, and so was cast out of the Garden. Christ, the new Adam, does not grasp at equality with God, but empties himself in suffering and death, and is therefore exalted as the savior of all.
Mark’s account of Jesus’ passion, like the other three accounts, is shaped by what he believed about Jesus and the stories he had heard from Paul and other apostles. This account is also shaped by the role of the righteous sufferer in the Hebrew scriptures, especially Psalms and Isaiah.
There are two plots in Mark’s account: the plan of the high priests and scribes to arrest Jesus and put him to death, and Judas’ agreement to betray Jesus to the priests. Between the two plots is inserted the story of the woman anointing Jesus, thereby contrasting two attitudes toward Jesus: betrayal or devotion. The anointing is an acclamation of Jesus as the royal Messiah, and creates an arch to the end of the passion narrative, where the women accompany Jesus to the cross and propose again to anoint him.
Jesus’ trusting prayer in Gethsemane provides a message of hope for a community like Mark’s that was suffering persecution. Mark neither glorifies suffering nor glosses over it. He shows Jesus as the one who was led by the Spirit in his first trial in the desert and will now remain faithful in the ultimate trial of his suffering and death.
There is little support in Mark’s passion for “satisfaction” theories of the atonement. Instead Jesus is the Obedient One who is willing to die innocently to demonstrate the extent of God’s love for a disobedient humanity.
This theme is conveyed in the great Lutheran hymn, “Ah, holy Jesus”, which we will sing at the conclusion of the passion reading. Jesus is the innocent one who died on our behalf. His life and death were for us, to show God’s surpassing love. For that we are bound to thank and praise him.
Bach Vespers at 5:00 on Sunday
The Bach Choir and Players will present Dieterich Buxtehude‘s monumental and powerful work with 7 meditations on Christ’s body on the cross, Membra Jesu Nostri, BuxWV75.
Music for Sunday, March 29, 2015
Offertory: Crucifixus, Antonio Lotti
Communion: Were You There, Spiritual, arr. Bob Chilcott
All Glory, Laud and Honor
#345 Jesus, I Will Ponder Now
#340 A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth
#351 O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
#346 Ride On, Ride On in Majesty
Lawrence Lever will lead the discussion on a new series, “Making Sense of the Cross.” The group will meet downstairs in the Community Room following Coffee Hour.
The Holy Trinity Transition Team needs your input and insight!
Please plan to attend two “Dialogue Circles” following two Sunday Masses in May. In groups of 8, or so, seated around tables as we eat some lunch (one of which will be pot-luck), you’ll be asked, by Transition Team facilitators, a series of open-ended questions about Holy Trinity’s heritage, identity, community, mission–and our future. Your perspective and insights on these questions are key to completing the Strategic Plan that the Transition Team is developing, and crucial to our eventual process to seek pastoral candidates and extend a call to our next pastor. You participation is necessary to capture your view.
Dialogue Circle/Luncheon (in the community room):
Sunday, May 3, about 12:45pm-2:00pm, following Mass and coffee hour. Lunch will be provided.
Sunday, May 17, about 12:45pm-2:00pm, following Mass and coffee hour. POT-LUCK LUNCHEON–please bring something to share!