Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC

Palm Sunday – Year A
The Passion of our Lord according to Matthew

 

Transcript:

This Palm Sunday, as with every Palm Sunday, we hear the Passion story. This year, it’s from Matthew’s gospel. Instead of having it in our worshiping sanctuary and hearing it from many adult voices, we have a virtual Zoom version, told in the voices of our teens from Church of the Servant. I don’t know about you, but for me it holds even more meaning hearing it in their voices and knowing that they came together to do it for us as a worshiping community.

A couple of days before the taping of that Passion story, I got a text from Jesus’s mom. Read the rest of this entry »

Collective Remembering

April 9, 2017

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
Isaiah 50:4-9a; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 26:14- 27:66

On the morning of January 2nd this year my Uncle Harris sent an e-mail to his three brothers and two sisters asking if any of them remembered which year their family moved to a new house, which was just a few blocks up the street from their old house. Providing a few memory-joggers:

  • Harris first thought it was in the 50’s, but a childhood friend suggested it was the late 40’s.
  • He said he didn’t remember going to St. John’s School from the old house, and it opened in 1946.
  • He shared a vague recollection of “a bunch of us walking the antenna down the sidewalk” to the new house. This refers to the big antenna for my grandfather’s ham radio which he used to connect, through Morris Code, with people around the globe.
  • And then there was the Hallicrafter television. They were the first house on the block to have one. He remembered that their dad brought it home – to the new house – and that it had a 6-inch screen.

Can you imagine watching shows on a 6-inch screen?

I guess the adage is true: “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Read the rest of this entry »

A New Thing?

January 31, 2016

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
4th Sunday after Epiphany 
Jeremiah 1:4-10; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Luke 4:21-30

(Gospel text is provided at the bottom of this post)

Although Lent hasn’t even started, it seems like today’s gospel has a Palm Sunday quality to it. passion-sundayWe begin Palm Sunday with a joyous entry, waving palm branches as we recall the Hosannas that welcomed Jesus as he entered Jerusalem. Yet, by the end of the Palm Sunday service we endure the taunts of “Crucify him, Crucify him” in the Passion story.

In today’s lesson I can hear the Hosannas as Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth. He goes into the synagogue, reads scripture, and asserts that it has been fulfilled. We’re told that “all spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.” Yet, by the end of the reading we hear that:

…all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill… so that they might hurl him off the cliff.

Palm Sunday, indeed! So what did Jesus say that was so disturbing? What turned their amazement into mutiny?

Well, let’s go back to last week’s gospel reading, which is where this all began. Jesus had been baptized, anointed by the Holy Spirit, tempted in the desert, and now “filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee.” He was teaching in synagogues and the buzz about Jesus had begun.

Read the rest of this entry »

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Palm Sunday – The Passion of Christ (Year A)

Isaiah 50:4-9a; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 26:36-27:66

We’ve finally arrived at Palm Sunday, also called Passion Sunday. While using the word “Passion” may seem unusual, the Latin root of this word is passio, which means “suffering.”

Palm Sunday is a sensory overload. When I attended Emmaus House Chapel, Claiborne Jones, the vicar, would say “It’s the day of the church year when we do everything that we don’t do any other time.” And there is some truth to that.

And you have to admit, the Passion story makes a powerful centerpiece. The dramatic reading of the Passion of Christ brings it more fully to life. Yet, as we heard it today, just now, we must understand its purpose on this day – which is to provide an Overture, if you will, for Holy Week.

gone-with-the-wind-1939

gone-with-the-wind-1939

The Overture is that musical score at the very beginning of a musical, before the curtain goes up or during the opening credits, that weaves together small portions of various songs that will be part of the overall story.

For those who have seen the musical before, when they hear the Overture it brings to mind the context of each of the songs, drawing the audience in, heightening their anticipation of what is to follow. But, it doesn’t capture the whole story – you still have to watch the scenes that follow to get the full experience.

Similarly, the Passion story of Palm Sunday is like an Overture. It’s an overview of the story – the story that we will be participating in more fully throughout Holy Week.

For much of Christian history Holy Week was a time when people went to church every day of the week. In more recent times, there would be more active participation at least during the Triduum – which are the three days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Yet even participation in these three days occurs less and less often, crowded out by busy schedules.

Consequently, Passion Sunday becomes a sort of substitute for Holy Week. It’s a shame really. It’s like listening to the Overture of a musical and then leaving the theater – you miss so much.

So, today, I invite you to enter fully into Holy Week, particularly, the Triduum. It provides an opportunity to experience the Passion of Christ more fully, and in so doing, to prepare more completely for the miracle of the resurrection. Read the rest of this entry »

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