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, March 27, 2023

Prayers of the People: The Time For Hosannas ~ Palm and Passion Sunday '23 Yr A

For Sunday, April 2, 2023, Readings: The Liturgy of the Palms: Matthew 21:1-11, Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; 
The Liturgy of the Word: Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 31:9-16, Philippians 2:5-11, Mt 26:14-27:66

    The 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!”  [Matthew 21:9]

    Hosannah, Lord, hosannah! Lord, send us now success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord… [Psalm 118:25-26a]

   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...in your loving-kindness save me." [Psalm 31:14-15a, 16b]

    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]

      Hosanna! The perfect short prayer, for these and other times, that we didn’t know that we knew. Before some Christian denominations began to use the now Revised Common Lectionary, Palm Sunday was a singular day by itself as a celebration. The following Sunday, beginning Holy Week, was by itself as Passion Sunday. Now and for many decades, these two parts of the Life of Christ are inextricably interwoven and significantly more cohesive and substantive when taken together than when separated. It is human nature to only want the fun part, yet as we know all too well, in the span of mortal life we cannot overlook the difficult in favor of only the pleasurable. And, that is why the shout of HOSANNA! is more important than ever, on this and every day.
    Hosanna, pronounced “Hoshana” in the Hebrew [Old] Testament, comes to us today in Psalm 118 appointed for the “Liturgy of the Palms,” which opens this Sunday, in verses 25-26 (NRSV): Hosannah, Lord, hosannah! Lord, send us now success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; we bless you from the house of the Lord. In original Aramaic, the language Jesus would likely have spoken, the exclamation was “help, save, I pray.” The words of the Psalm become clearer with that in mind if we shift to “Help, Lord, Help! Lord, send us now success.” In the Jewish Study Bible (of the Jewish Publication Society and published by Oxford Press 1985/1999), verses 25-26 read as O Lord, deliver us! O Lord, let us prosper! May he who enters be blessed in the name of the Lord; we bless you from the House of the Lord.
   Christian usage in the Christian [New] Testament has become an exclamation of special respect for the one who saves us. Neither definition excludes the other and so to proclaim Hosanna! is to recognize, celebrate, and respect Jesus as our Lord and Savior even as we ask him to help us.
   The opening readings may be familiar but listen, and even better, read them to discover what you've forgotten or never thought about. For example, choosing the kind of animal for Jesus to ride is quite significant. Jesus was accused later in the week of proclaiming himself "King of the Jews," yet riding into the city of Jerusalem on a donkey symbolized that he was a peaceful Teacher. A warrior King would ride in on a horse bent on war and occupation. The procession with palm branches celebrates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem just after his miraculous raising of Lazarus from the dead just two miles away in Bethany. The greetings of hosanna are a recognition that he is a Messiah who will remove and save them from the oppression of Rome.
    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 Jewish hierarchy and Rome, were clearly threatened by this acclaimed and unorthodox prophet and miracle-worker. All of 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 welcoming 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 rocks because of a few well-placed headlines or Facebook comments because we simply followed the crowd?
    Jesus enters the chaos of his times as he enters the chaos of our own. The people along the way misunderstood the significance of this man who was being accepted as Messiah. He wasn't coming for regime change but rather to teach love and peace, equality and humanity. The political and religious authorities knew he was a threat to their power and wealth and he still is. How divided still is our world over who is in and who is out even, or perhaps especially, among those who claim Jesus as their own and everyone who doesn't believe in the exact way that they do are definitely out and often persecuted.
    The message of Jesus was, is, and will always be: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. [Mark 12:30-31; Matthew 22:37-39] 
     When is the time for Hosannas? Always!


Leader:  ~ Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God, the human winds of discontent change to the stillness of apathy and back as quickly as those who turned from Hosanna to Crucify Him. Grant us the willingness to walk consciously through this Holy Week with fresh eyes, and, the uncomfortable awareness of how often we, too, have slept in Your presence.

                                                      O Lord our GOD
         RESPONSE:                  Let Us Turn Again To You

~ Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God, lighten the hearts and enlighten the minds of all who govern in this Community, this Nation, and this World, that they may seek the paths of peace through global cooperation. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord our GOD             
                                                       Let Us Turn Again To You

~ Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God, cradle in Your benevolent arms all who are sick, desperate, or hopeless, and give peace of heart to those who care and worry. We now join our hearts to pray for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord our GOD             
                                                       Let Us Turn Again To You       

~ Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God, ease the burden of grief in all who are or have ever been bereaved, as those we mourn now live in the eternal radiance of everlasting resurrection in You. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord our GOD             
                                                       Let Us Turn Again To You

~ Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently… add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord our GOD             
                                                       Let Us Turn Again To You
~ Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God, embrace and enrich those You have called to lead us in Your Church through this sacred week and beyond. 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

                                                       O Lord our GOD             
                                                       Let Us Turn Again To You                                                                                                 
The Celebrant adds: GOD Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, in Your loving-kindness sustain our hope and save us from a time of trial, that humbled in our human form, we may seek and serve Christ in ourselves, in each other, and in all of humankind. We ask through Jesus, our Strength and our Redeemer; and the Holy Spirit, the Wisdom of our Souls, who together with You are One God, now and forever. Amen. 

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