Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Readings for Palm & Passion Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hello Everyone,

First off, a special announcement for the people of Grey Eagle UMC.

The Easter Sunrise Breakfast at GE UMC will be served at 8 a.m. on Easter Sunday, March 27. A sign-up sheet will be in the fellowship hall beginning Wed. March 16. We will need a team of workers to cook the breakfast and another team to clean-up. The following items need to be donated and taken to the church by Sat. March 26: pancake mix, sausage, butter, eggs, fruit, orange juice and milk. Amounts are listed on the sign-up sheets. Thank you for your help. The worship committee.

Secondly, as many of you who are Facebook friends with me know, my oldest daughter, Megan, gave birth to a 7 lb. 6 oz. girl, Teagan, on Sunday. Teagan had some minor health issues on Sunday evening and Monday but is doing well today. I got a chance to hold her this morning and she is adorable. At this really early stage of her life, she sleep all of the time, even when the nurses poke and prod her or she gets transferred to and from Grandpa’s arms.

One last chance to come to a Wednesday Lenten Worship. The climax of the “Ten Tough Topics” series is “Forgiveness”. Why would that be a tough topic? Maybe because it is so difficult to do. Come join us at 6:00 PM at Peace United Church or 7:30 PM at Grey Eagle UMC.

This coming Sunday has historically been known as “Palm Sunday”. It commemorates the day Jesus entered into Jerusalem. As Jesus rides into town on the back of a donkey or a colt (the gospels differ) people spread softer items on the road to cushion Jesus’ ride. Mark says the items were cloaks and leafy branches (Mark 11:8). Matthew says they were cloaks and branches from trees (Matthew 21:8). Luke says it was only cloaks (Luke 19:36). Finally, only John mentions palm branches but he does not say that the people laid the branches in the road (John 12:13). I guess “Palm Sunday” sounds a whole lot better than “Cloak Sunday” or “Branches Sunday”.

This Sunday is also “Passion Sunday”. Why? Well, not too long ago it was noticed that many Christians stopped coming to Maundy Thursday and Good Friday worship services. If they came to worship on Palm Sunday and then Resurrection (a better word than Easter) Sunday they missed perhaps the most important part of the story, the betrayal, arrest, trial, beating, crucifixion, and death of Jesus. Hence, the Passion reading was introduced to Palm Sunday so they can hear “the rest of the story”.

Palm Sunday Readings:

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 – Verse 1 (repeated in verse 29) might be the best advertising slogan for God: “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!” Verse 22 is quoted several times in the New Testament about Jesus: “the stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” Verse 26 is quoted by the crowd as Jesus rides into Jerusalem in our Luke 19 reading.

Luke 19:28-40 – Jesus sends two disciples into Jerusalem to retrieve a colt. They do. They disciples then place some cloaks on the colt for Jesus to ride on. As he rides into Jerusalem, the people lay their cloaks on the road. The disciples shout verse 26 from Psalm 118 (adding the title “king”). Some Pharisees are not happy and tell Jesus to make his disciples stop shouting. Jesus says if the disciple were to be quiet the stone would shout out.

Passion Sunday Readings:

Isaiah 50:4-9a – This is the third of the so called “Servant Songs” in Isaiah (42:1-4, 49:1-7, 50:4-11; and 52:13-53:12) that have been identified by New Testament and early church writers with Jesus. Isaiah’s intent was probably to see the servant of each passage as the “People of Israel”. Still, they speak in a beautiful and tragic way to the death of Jesus.

Psalm 31:9-16 – In the full Psalm, the psalmist cries out to God for deliverance from his enemies who are oppressing him while also trusting God to bring that deliverance.

Philippians 2:5-11 – Verse 5 is a continuation of Paul’s thoughts in verses 1-4 so I highly encourage you to read those also. Verse 6-11 may have been a poem or hymn that Paul and others knew, but not all scholars agree. You can also think of this beautiful passage as the “humiliation and exaltation” of Jesus. Jesus gave up his “God-hood” so that he could become one like us. As a human, he humbled himself before the powers of this world and died on the cross. However, God exalted Jesus by raising him from the dead and giving him the “Name of all names” so that everyone will bow down and confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God.

Luke 22:14-23:56 (or Luke 23:1-49) – This is the passion story; the story of Jesus’ last day. It begins actually in verse 7 when Jesus send Peter and John into Jerusalem to secure a room to celebrate the Feast of the Unleavened Bread (Passover). They eat and Jesus tells them to break bread and drink wine to remember him (and what will happen over the next three days). The disciples argue; Peter claims loyalty to Jesus even though Jesus says he will deny Jesus; they pray on the Mount of Olives; Jesus is betrayed by Judas; Jesus is arrested; Peter denies Jesus; Jesus appears before the High Council; he then appears before Pilate who sends him to Herod; Pilate sentences Jesus to be crucified; Jesus is crucified between two criminals and Jesus speaks with one of them; and finally Jesus dies and is buried in a new, unused tomb.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor

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