Palm Sunday/ Sunday of the Passion – March 20, 2016
Mass at 11:00 a.m. Readings: Palm Procession: Luke19:28-40; Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31; Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 22:14-23:56. Pastor George Detweiler preaches and presides.The first and second lessons for the Sunday of the Passion do not change from year to year, unlike the gospel. The first lesson is always this song of the suffering servant of Israel, the one who suffers willingly, aware of God’s vindication. The second lesson is always this early Christian hymn or creed that Paul quotes in Philippians 2. Jesus Christ was in the form of God, but did not cling to his divinity, instead emptying himself by becoming human and sharing in human suffering and death. As a result of his self-emptying, God raised and exalted him.
Reading the passion is preparation for Easter. The word “Passion” is used in an unusual way in the Church. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the primary meaning of the word is “intense suffering.” (The common cultural use of the term is the OED’s 3rd choice, which they refer to as “an affection of the mind.”)
In Luke’s gospel Jesus is portrayed as the Righteous One who goes to suffering and death willingly:
- Three times Pilate says that Jesus is innocent of the charges and that Herod agrees.
- Jesus is the Benefactor of humanity, the one who entrusts his life to God for our sake, the one who with self-control goes willingly to suffering and death. The turning point for Luke is Jesus’ statement : “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.”
In Luke’s passion account Jesus says more than in the other gospels:
- he tells the women who weep along the way of the cross “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but for yourselves.”
- at the crucifixion he says “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
- to the thief who asks to be remembered in his kingdom, he says “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
- at his last, there is no cry of forsakenness, but instead he entrusts his life to God: “Into your hands I commend my spirit.”
When we finish listening to the passion account, we have entered the time of celebrating Jesus death with the promise of celebrating his resurrection.
Holy Week Worship – Triduum (The Great Three Days)
As the passion and resurrection of Christ is the culmination of the gospel accounts, so the Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Vigil of Easter are the culmination of the church year.
The services on Maundy Thursday have at least four emphases:
- Concluding Lent as a time of repentance: we begin the service with confession and the opportunity for individual absolution. We end what we started on Ash Wednesday with what was absent then: a clear and personal statement of the gospel: “In obedience to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins.”
- The second emphasis is Jesus’ gift of himself in the bread and cup and his commanding this as the way to remember him, the crucified and risen one.
- The third emphasis is the New Commandment (mandatum) that we love one another as he has loved us. It is from that commandment that this day receives its title.
- Finally there is the foreshadowing of Good Friday with the stripping of the altar and leaving in silence at the end of the service.
When we return on Good Friday at Noon and at 7 PM, it is to hear the passion according to John, sing the traditional hymns associated with the crucifixion, and to offer prayers for people in all conditions of life. The services focus on the contemplation and adoration of the cross, a means of death become the means of life and salvation.
On Saturday evening we will gather outside for the Church’s most ancient liturgy – the Vigil of Easter, the original celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It begins in the darkness of Good Friday with the striking of a new fire from which the paschal candle is lighted. We will process into the darkened church carrying this light of Christ. A song will be sung that proclaims the wonder of Christ and his resurrection, then we will read from the Old Testament to remember God’s prior actions to save his people; that our faith is rooted in the faith of Israel. We will renew our baptismal vows as a sign of the way the hope of the resurrection comes into our lives. Then we will celebrate the resurrection with the Lord’s Supper.
In this way we are prepared for the continuing celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday and every Sunday afterward. I encourage you make every effort to participate in these services that are central to our faith in Jesus Christ. It is the celebration of the Triduum and Easter that reroots us in Christ, in his suffering and death, and gives us hope through his resurrection.
Please keep in your prayers: Ellen Benton, Charlotte Cage, Peg Faulkner, Harold Gray, Susan Sterne McCann, Jytte Palumbo, Robert Radsch, Mike Rodriguez, Charles Scholz, Beth Shane and the family of Deb Hoeck, Thorvald Slater, Rosie Weaver and Benjamin Weiner.
Bach Vespers on Sunday at 5:00PM
The Bach Choir and Players present Schütz’s Die Sieben Worte Jesu am Kreuz, SWV 478. There is also a Pre-Vespers Talk with Michael Marissen at 3:45 PM downstairs in the Community Room.
Music for Sunday
Heinrich Schütz’ St. Luke Gospel
Offertory: Crucifixus, Antonio Lotti
Communion: Were You There, Spiritual, arr. Bob Chilcott
#344 All Glory, Laud, and Honor
#345 Jesus, I Will Ponder Now
#351 O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
#346 Ride On, Ride On in Majesty
Scripture Reading – Holy Week
Sunday: Philippians 2:5. How can we have the same mind as Christ Jesus?
Monday: Isaiah 42:1-9. How has Christ fulfilled this reading?
Tuesday: Isaiah 49:1-7. How is this similar to Sunday’s reading from Philippians?
Wednesday: Hebrews 12:1-3. How are we not to grow weary or lose heart?
Thursday: Exodus 12:1-4, 11-14. How do we celebrate the Lord’s passover?
Friday: Isaiah 5213-53:12. What thoughts does this last of the servant songs bring to your mind?
Saturday: Daniel 3:1-29. What message does this story have for us today?
Sunday: Luke 24:1-12. What difference does Jesus’ resurrection make in your life?