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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Palm Sunday, Year A

"Forgiveness of sin is not merely therapeutic accommodation to the inevitable disappointments of a selfhood running out of control, it is the current form of the resurrection, opening both self and community to the freedom of life lived beyond condemnation, in grace."
Entry into Jerusalem, 12th Century Mosaic
Plate IV-1
"First Sunday in Advent: Matthew 24:37-44 or Matthew 21:1-11," The Matthean Advent Gospels, James Arne Nestingen, Word & World: Theology for Christian Ministry, Luther Northwestern Theological School, 1992. (Section on this text begins on page 408).

Matthew 21:1-11
21When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” 4This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, 5“Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” 6The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 10When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

A Little Bit for Everyone

Oremus Online NRSV Text

General Resources for the Texts this week

Textweek Resources For Sunday's Gospel

Some interesting articles on this passage:

William Loader's "First Thoughts"

Chris Haslam's clippings blog

David Ewart's thoughts

Working Preacher

Unos recursos en Espanol


Let us enter the city with God today

Let us sing hosanna to our king

To the son of God riding on a donkey

With shepherds and prostitutes,

With the blind and the leper

With the abandoned and oppressed

Let us shout for joy at Christ’s coming

And follow the One who welcomes the sinner and dines with the outcast

Let us touch and see as God draws near

Riding in Triumph towards the Cross

Prayer by Christine Sine

Some thoughts...

The triumphal entry has been recast from the Markan story and it makes clear the importance of this event as a sign of both who Jesus is as the Mesiah and the importance of the event in the continuing story of Israel. (See Zechariah 9.9, Psalm 118:26 and the image of a shaken city welcoming the prophet king Deut 18:15-18)

In Matthew's narrative these are teh very first encounters with Jerusalem and the Temple.  It is of eschatological significance, though I really do believe that for Matthew the emphasis is on the prophet king's entry and the importance of connecting his life's journey with that of Israel itself.  Jesus is fulfilling the scripture's prophetic witness. He is the "meek and humble king."  He is the one to guide the searching Israel.  He is the Lord and he is the Son of David. 

This witness comes to us as we enter as a church family Holy Week and make ourselves ready to witness to the last days of Jesus' life. So often preachers will spend time on the passion narrative also characteristically read on this day.  However, to do so is to arrive at Good Friday too soon.

I encourage you to preach on the event of Palm Sunday.  Use the drama of the liturgy and the lesson from Matthew to draw you ever deeper into the journey yet to be made - the journey to a common meal, a trial, a crucifixion, and a burial. 

Bear witness to who this Jesus is.  He arrives on the doorstep of Jerusalem and the Temple with a life's journey behind him. He arrives there and we join him bearing witness to who he is and what he has done.  This is a moment for us to be present with Jesus in his sacred footsteps towards the cross.  For us to proclaim and worship our mee and humble King who fulfills all righteousness and makes his way to the Temple of our souls.

The Lambeth Bible Study Method
This Bible study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African." This method is derived from the practice of Lectio Divina. The entire process should take about 30 minutes.

Question #5: "Briefly identify where this passage touches their life today," can change based upon the lesson. Find lesson oriented questions at this website:

Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. One person reads passage. This person then invites a member of the group to begin the process.

2. Each person briefly identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention then invites another person to share.

3. Each shares the word or phrase until all have shared or passed using the same invitation method.

4. The passage is read a second time, preferably from a different translation. The reader then invites a person in the group to begin the process.

5. Each person briefly identifies where this passage touches their life today, and then invites someone who has not shared yet.

6. The passage is read a third time, also from another translation, and the reader invites a person to start the process.

7. Each person responds to the questions, "What does God want me to do, to be or to change?"

8. The group stands up in a circle and holds hands. One person initiates the prayer “I thank God today for …” and “I ask God today for…” The prayer goes around the circle by squeezing the hand to your right.

9. When the circle is fulfilled, the person who initiated the prayer starts the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father..."

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