A moment of contemplation for yourself or on behalf of others on everything from the life-altering to the mundane.


Prayer: A conversation with The Higher Other who lives within each of us. An invitation to vent, to re-think, to ask, and to rest.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Prayers of the People: Palms and Punishment, Palm/Passion Sunday '17 Yr A

For Sunday, April 9, 2017, Palm and Passion Sunday, Year A, Readings: Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 31:9-16, Philippians 2:5-11, Mt 26:14-27:66

       The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher... Morning by morning he wakens...my ear...The Lord God helps me...and I know I shall not be put to shame. [Isaiah 50:4, 7b]

      But as for me, I have trusted in you, O Lord. I have said, "You are my God. My times are in your hand..." [Psalm 31:14-15a]

      Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God...And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death... [Philippians 2:5-11]

      Then [Jesus] went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples. "Sit here while I go over there and pray"...Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, "So you could not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak." 
[Matthew 26:36, 40-41]

           Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday are both separate and also one commemoration. The procession with palm branches celebrates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem just on the heels of his miraculous raising of Lazarus from the dead just two miles away. The Passion narrative develops the details of his Last Supper, betrayal by Judas, and the machinations of the Chief Priests whose local standing and power among the Jews and Rome were clearly threatened by this acclaimed and unorthodox prophet and miracle-worker.
       Jesus had not yet been to Jerusalem during the short time of his public ministry but he was becoming very well-known and so his arrival created quite a stir.  To this day in the Palm Sunday processions we hear hymns and shouts with "Hosanna" ("Hoshana" in Hebrew) - praise to God with great elation as Jesus was greeted by the throngs that lined the road. They sang and shouted Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord [Ps 118: 26]. The people laid their cloaks and branches on the pathway for Jesus as a sign of the highest honor. The palm was the symbol of triumph and victory in the Greco-Roman culture of the times.  Another notable symbol is the donkey itself - it would appear to be a very deliberate choice of Jesus sending the disciples to specifically retrieve it. The prophet Zechariah says in the Old/Hebrew Testament: Rejoice greatly, O daughter, Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter, Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey [Zechariah 9:9]As Jesus was accused later in the week of proclaiming himself "King of the Jews," riding into the city of Jerusalem on a donkey would have symbolized that he was coming in peace, as a ruler would do to show a peaceful arrival rather than a warrior King riding in on a horse bent on war.
         All these elements were carefully noticed and recorded by the Roman occupiers and the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Council who had its own police force and trial court. How easy, it seems, to go from enthusiastic cheers of the crowd to the strongly manipulated and equally enthusiastic and deathly jeers by the same people mere days later. 
        Two thousand plus years on, it is still a story for our own time. How easily are we turned from waving palms to throwing punishing, even deadly, stones by a few well-placed headlines or Facebook posts because we simply followed the crowd?

LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ Lord God, Who Helps Us, this Holy Week begins in jubilance yet finds us quickly diverted by the glitter of earthly distraction, hiding in our sleeping souls, and unconscious of our own betrayals of Jesus. Awaken our hope, re-kindle our devotion, and move us, yet again, into new life in Christ.

Jesus, Lamb of God
RESPONSE:              We put our trust in You

~ Lord God, Who Helps Us, turn those leaders of this community, this nation, and this world, who engage in fear-mongering and political manipulation, toward enlightened compassion, humanity, and global cooperation. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Jesus, Lamb of God
                                                We put our trust in You
                                               
~ Lord God, Who Helps Us, cradle in Your benevolent arms all who are chronically ill, desperate, or hopeless, and give peace of heart to those who care and worry. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                Jesus, Lamb of God
                                                We put our trust in You
           
~ Lord God, Who Helps Us, ease the burden of grief in dark times, as those for whom we mourn, now live in the eternal radiance of everlasting resurrection, through the glory of God in Christ. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Jesus, Lamb of God
                                                We put our trust in You

~ Lord God, Who Helps Us, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt intentions and petitions, aloud or silently… add your own petitions

                                                Jesus, Lamb of God
                                                We put our trust in You
           
~ Lord God, Who Helps Us, through this sacred week and beyond, embrace and enrich those You have called to lead Your Church. Inspire their words, their prayers, and their souls, that they and we together, may draw ever closer to You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Jesus, Lamb of God
                                                We put our trust in You
                                                                                                        

The Celebrant adds:  Holy God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, keep Your Loving Hand upon us to awaken and encourage our willing spirits, and strengthen our weakened flesh, that humbled in our human form, we may seek and serve Christ in ourselves, each other, and all of humankind. We ask through Jesus, our Lord and Savior, and the Holy Spirit, the Wisdom of our Souls, who together with You are One God, now and forever. Amen




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