A Reflection for Holy Week

April 10, 2019

I am stepping away from the typical sermon this week and giving you more of a short reflection as we enter one of the most sacred weeks of the church year. The gospel of Luke can speak for itself and appears full of desolation as we await what we know happens following Jesus’ death on the cross.

Jesus was surrounded by a crowd of people as he entered Jerusalem one last time. Brian McLaren, in his book We Make the Road by Walking, imagines what that entry may look and sound like,

A reverent silence descends upon our parade. It’s a sight that has choked up many as a pilgrim. But Jesus doesn’t just get choked up. He begins to weep. The crowd clusters around him, and he begins to speak to Jerusalem. “If only you knew on this day of all days the things that lead to peace,” he says through tears. “But you can’t see. A time will come when your enemies will surround you, and you will be crushed and this whole city leveled …all because you didn’t recognize the meaning of this moment of God’s visitation.”[1]

You didn’t recognize the meaning of this moment of God’s visitation!

These are the words of Jesus speaking the harsh truth to the people of Jerusalem that have gathered to welcome him into the city with fanfare and celebration. He could just as easily be saying, “I’m sorry, I think you are a little too late for that.” When do we ourselves fail to see Jesus in our midst? Do we look beyond the visitor and not welcome them in? Do we turn up our nose to the gentleman that walks into our community seeking assistance? Do we jump to quick conclusions when encountering someone that is not like us, whether they are a different gender, race, ability, or sexual orientation? Do we disregard our migrant neighbors that are escaping crime, persecution, and even death? Jesus can and will be found in all of these circumstances.

We are not much different than the crowd that has gathered around Jesus, full of excitement. As a community we are welcomed into something much greater than us over this next week. We are together because God has called us all to be a part of this community. Some of you have never known any other place. Some of you had significant life events that brought you here. Some of you have only been here a short time. It does not matter. We are all called into community to love and support one another. We are called to love and support each other in times of joy as well as times of sorrow. You are called to support those that are leading the congregation. You are called to care for this space like it is your own home. Why? Because we are in relationship with one another and we are community. In this community we welcome Jesus Christ in any and all forms.

We worship together as a community. This week as a community we are invited to walk in the steps of Jesus’ last days. Thursday we will gather to lay down our sins at the foot of the cross, be reminded of Jesus’ love and service for all through the washing of feet, and finally we will break bread with one another as we receive Holy Communion. Friday, we come together as we recognize those last breaths of Jesus on the cross. Breaths that are held until we gather for the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening. These three days seamlessly flow together, and as a community we live out these days with the anticipation of what is to come. You are invited to come, and be fully present, and live into community this week as we embrace Jesus’ last days and anticipate the new life to come.

[1] Brian McLaren, We Make the Road by Walking, pg. 149.


Living into Holy Week


Mark 14:1-15:47

We have traveled many miles and through the millennia these past five weeks to reach our Passion Narrative from Mark today. It is a narrative that has its roots in the promises of our Jewish ancestors. It is a narrative that shatters expectations and bares the brokenness for all to see. It is a narrative that invites us to become a part of the living God that was, is, and is to come.

Are you ready?

Are you ready to embrace this narrative that we have heard this morning? Are you ready to travel with it and let it become part of you for this next week? We are quick to move beyond the suffering, because we know what is going to happen on the other side of the tomb. Perhaps, that is where we fall short. We look beyond the pain that happens in our lives and want to quickly move on. We want to brush it under the rug and forget that it ever happened. We wish to not talk about it. Now, this pain and suffering could be anything that is holding us back. Anything that is holding us back from encountering Christ.

God invites us into this story so that we can be present. Not distant. We are invited to travel with a heart that has had the law written on it to remember whose we are. In that promise, we also are known deeply by a loving and compassionate God.

We have trouble finding God in the suffering and brokenness.

In this story we encounter many people, and perhaps you can find yourself in the story. Do you feed into the mob mentality, or are you bold enough to carry the cross bar in which Jesus will be crucified, like Simon of Cyrene? Have you denied Jesus as Peter has, or do you stand by with the women that Jesus has come to know throughout his ministry? Does your sense of compassion come forward as you relate to Joseph of Arimathea and his desire to treat Jesus’ body with the utmost respect and provide him with a proper burial?

Now that we are here, are we open to revealing our hearts to God? There is a love that flows from God and Jesus’ death on the cross that we cannot fully comprehend. It is not yet fully revealed to us. This is a love that fully brings the kingdom of God down to earth. A love that washes over all of creation with grace.

We would not be able to come to our Celebration on Easter Morning if it were not for the pain and the agony that we must travel through on the way to the cross. Deep within that suffering is the love that permeates all things.

While we have heard the Passion Narrative according to Mark this morning, there is so much more. There is so much more that God invites us to be a part of. We are invited into the Holiness of this week as we remember the washing of feet, breaking of bread, and traveling through a crowd that has been worked up into a mob and is eager for a crucifixion.

We are invited into our services this week on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Saturday Easter Vigil to be a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We live into Holy Week by traveling this well worn road. A road that has been laid out before us. A road that leads us to hope and an empty tomb. May we listen and be transformed through Paul’s words in Philippians as we enter into this Holy Week.

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave. (Philippians 2:5-7)