Sermon- The Palm Sunday Path

Jesus Palm Sunday Benedictine Sisters Turvey AbbeyThe Palm Sunday Path
Scripture: Mark 11:1-10
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 4/5/2020 via Facebook Live for Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. Click Here for a video of me leading worship in our empty sanctuary, including the message which starts around the 19-minute mark.

Mark 11:1-10, NRSV
1 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” 

4 They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5 some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 They told them what Jesus had said, and they allowed them to take it. 

7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9 Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

“Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Imagine two mountains with a valley between them. One is the Mount of Olives. Jesus and his followers start on the far side near the villages of Bethphage and Bethany. They make their way up to the top of the Mount of Olives and what does Jesus see?

He looks down the slope and sees the olive grove and olive press of Gethsemane

He looks up the other mountain, the top’s been cut off in order to build the 35 acre Temple complex. On the left, he sees the teaching steps where he probably questioned the rabbis when he was 12. The steps where he now teaches when he comes to the Temple.

On the right, Jesus sees the Antonio Fortress where the Roman soldiers are garrisoned.

There between them, gleaming white and gold in the sun, the Temple of the One True Living God. Jesus can see the flames from the sacrifices, smell the char of the meat and perfumed prayers.

At the top of the Mount of Olives, Jesus can see all of Jerusalem before him. Jesus can see thousands of people making their way to market, work, worship, and home. And Jesus can see where they do the crucifixions. He can see his future on the cross.

What does Jesus do? Jesus continues on the path.

Jesus could have chosen an easier path, the path of Comfort
A quiet life, a tiny life in tiny Nazareth. Carpentry is honorable work. He’s been doing it for a couple of decades and he could continue. Morning prayer walks on the rolling hills of Galilee stopping to overlook the beautiful Sea of Galilee. Sweet sabbaths in the synagogue. Jesus could have chosen home and family, privacy, simplicity, comfort.

Jesus could have chosen a different path, the path of Control
He could have called down the armies of heaven to overthrow the Romans, and the evil one. He could have placed himself on David’s earthly throne and made every wrong right. He could have raised his hand and said “peace, be still” to the whole world.

Jesus could have chosen an easier path or a different path. He could have saved himself instead of saving the world… but he didn’t.

Jesus didn’t choose comfort and he didn’t choose control.
Jesus chose courage. He chose the courageous path of God.

Jesus hears the people around him as they’re making their way down the path. Ordinary people, simple people, excited and hopeful to announce him to Jerusalem.

“Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Hosanna does not mean Hooray! It means Help!
Hosanna means Save Now!

The men, women, children walking with Jesus waving their branches weren’t thinking, “Save us from slavery to sin and death and shame.” They were thinking closer to home.

Save us from the Romans
Save us from the corruption of the Temple
Save us from hunger and thirst

Maybe you’re thinking closer to home, too.

If you were to cry Hosanna today, Save Now today, what would you want?
I would want Jesus to save us from the pandemic
Save us from the disease and the dis-ease
Save us from the cruelty of isolation
Save us from the slavery of financial ruin
Save us from the oppression of unknowing
Save us, Jesus, save now!
These are good prayers!

I want Jesus the King
Jesus the Healer
Jesus the Fixer, just like they did
Hosanna! Save Now!

That’s what Jesus chose to do- to save
Jesus looked at the great need all around him and chose the long game, the big picture, the one thing only he could do no one else.

Jesus chose the hard, courageous path for the greater need, the greatest need. He chose to save the world.

Jesus chose the path of injustice, betrayal, denial, abandonment. Jesus chose the path of mocking, whips, thorns, nails. Jesus chose the courageous path of crucifixion and death so he could open to us the path of victory and eternal life.

Hosanna doesn’t mean Hooray! It means Save Now!
Salvation doesn’t mean fixed. Salvation means wholeness.
Lord knows that’s what we need right now.

We need it for ourselves
We need it for our families
We need it for our economy
For Christ’s church
For our healthcare system
For our world

Lord, we need your salvation. We need your wholeness and we need it now. In our sickness, our suffering, our lamenting, our loss. And that’s what you give us now.

You are the Lamb of God
You are the King of Kings
You are the Christ, the Anointed One, the Savior of us all

We cling to you and we cling to your cross
We cry Hosanna! Save Now!

Make your wholeness real in us
And real in all. Amen.

********************
The Palm Sunday Path © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Holy Week at Home- Good Friday

jesus crucifixion mother son

Below you’ll find a guide for worshipping at home on Good Friday. It includes the scriptures of Jesus’ words from the cross plus some sentences to focus your prayer time. The more formal prayers come from the book Listening at Golgotha by Peter Storey, illustrations by Jan Richardson.

You’re welcome to use this resource anytime on Good Friday. Here are some options-

  • It’s a long-standing practice for Christians to pray from (or between) 9am-3pm on Good Friday. In doing this we remember the six hours Jesus spent on the cross.
  • We will gather on Facebook Live to pray this together at 6:30pm on Good Friday. You’re most welcome to join us. https://www.facebook.com/TrinityUMCSarasota/

To begin:

  • Gather your household in a quiet place. Silence all electronics.
  • Join us for the live online worship service at 6:30pm.
  • If you are not joining us for the live online worship service, distribute copies of this resource and decide who will lead each prayer and scripture reading.

CLICK HERE FOR A PDF OF HOLY WEEK AT HOME- GOOD FRIDAY

LIGHT A CANDLE

THE FIRST WORD
Luke 23:32-38 NRSV

Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his leftThen Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

ALL:
Holy Jesus,
Your forgiving love saves and disturbs me.
Without it, I am lost,
yet, if I receive it, I must practice it.
By your mercy, make me merciful;
by your forgiveness, help me to forgive as I have been forgiven. Amen.

Pause in silence to pray for all who are trapped in bitterness, revenge, and resentment.

May all know the freedom of forgiving as Christ, including me.

THE SECOND WORD
Luke 23:39-43 NRSV

One of the criminals who was hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

ALL:
Holy Jesus,
Love held you to the cross for my sake, but not mine alone.
Your love is frightening in its breadth and depth;
When I embrace it, it stretches my poor spirit.
Enlarge my heart to make space for your friends;
Let me love as one forgiven. Today. Amen.

Pause in silence to pray for the salvation of all who do not know Christ.

May all place their trust in the saving power of Jesus, including me.

THE THIRD WORD
John 19:25-27 NRSV

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary MagdaleneWhen Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

ALL:
Holy Jesus,
I give thanks for your mother
and all like her who have borne the pain of loving too deeply.
Thank you for your gift the church.
Help me receive as your gift all whom I encounter, whoever they are,
And to become family to them in Your name. Amen.

Pause in silence to pray for the unity of Christ’s church.

May every congregation embody the love and belonging Christ provides, including mine. 

THE FOURTH WORD
Matthew 27:45-46 NRSV

From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Pause in silence to pray for all who are suffering.

Christ is near. Christ understands our pain. May all experience this, including me.

ALL:
Holy Jesus,
There was no suffering like yours.
I am silent in the darkness, Your darkness.
There can be no words, only worship. Amen.

Pause for another moment of silence.

THE FIFTH WORD
John 19:28-29 NRSV

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth.

ALL:
Holy Jesus,
All the longing of God,
Through all the ages, for all humanity,
Cries out to me from your cross.
Give me a heart to hear that cry
And a longing to be found by your love. Amen.

Pause in silence to pray for all who are longing- for love, answers, healing, daily bread, justice, hope…

May all find what they need in you, O Christ, including me.

THE SIXTH WORD
John 19:30 NRSV

When Jesus had received the winehe said, “It is finished.”

Silent adoration and wonder

THE SEVENTH WORD
Luke 23:44-43 NRSV

Darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in twoThen Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.

Blow out the candle

ALL:
Rest now, Holy Jesus
Hero of the Cross
Your work is done.
The world has done its sinning,
And you have done your loving
Each beyond limit
And, in the end, limitless love prevails.
Your dying becomes my hope and the hope of the world. Amen.

Pass the peace of Christ to one another.

You can choose to talk about your experience or remain silent until the next morning.

**********
Service conceived and compiled by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia © 2020
You are welcome to use this service with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa directly for publishing and posting consideration.

Belonging (Ephesians 2)

All week long we wrote Belong on each other’s palms. We wrote on our fingers, too. Needed and Loved. Safe, Understood, and Purpose.

We wrote it because they’re our deepest longings. Every single one of them in every single one of us.

We wrote it because we wanted to hold on to their truth and each other and the One who would help us find them.

You can hold on, too, with us and with Him. You belong.

Ephesians 2:13-18
Now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh, he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Jesus
You are our peace

You proclaim it
You create it
You bring us near

Without you there is
No safety
No belonging
No nurturing
No identity rooted beyond this dust

Without you we are
Anchorless
Strangers, Aliens
Outsiders, Outcasts, Orphaned

Our need is so deep, so desperate
So beyond us
It took flesh, your flesh to make peace
Your torture puts hostility to death
Your broken body breaks down every dividing wall
Your blood makes us blood

What wondrous truth
What dazzling grace

Bring us near again, Jesus
Help us remember and re-member
Make us one in your generous, fierce love

*****************
This reflection came from a week leading middle school worship at the Warren W Willis United Methodist Summer Camp in Fruitland Park, Florida.

It feels especially needed given the hate and division being promoted in our country.

Should you ever want a gentle ear to listen, or a gentle heart to pray, I would be honored to be that for you.

Belonging © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Our Peace (Ephesians 2)

people crossEphesians 2:13-18
Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Jesus
You are our peace

You proclaim it
You create it
You bring us near

Without you there is
No safety
No belonging
No nurturing
No identity rooted beyond this dust

Without you we are
Anchorless
Strangers, Aliens
Outsiders, Outcasts, Orphaned

Our need is so deep, so desperate
So beyond us
It took flesh, your flesh to make peace
Your torture puts hostility to death
Your broken body breaks down every dividing wall
Your blood makes us blood

What wondrous truth
What dazzling grace

Bring us near again, Jesus
Help us remember and re-member
Make us one in your generous, fierce love

*****************
This prayer was born from the Ephesians Reading Challenge. Click Here for more information on the challenge to read and reflect on the entire book of Ephesians 3 times in 3 weeks. 

The Ephesians Reading Challenge accompanied a sermon series entitled Sit Walk Stand which was inspired by Watchman Nee‘s book Sit Walk Stand, a study of Ephesians. You will find recordings and notes from this series on the blog as well.

Our Peace © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer Guide: Hourly Scriptures and Prayers for Good Friday

words_from_the_cross_nivIt’s a long-standing practice for many Christians to pray from 9am-3pm on Good Friday as they remember the six hours Jesus spent on the cross. Some pray the entire six hours, some pray on each hour, and some pray sometime during the six hours.

Another option would be to pray for 30 minutes, starting when the minute hand reaches 9 and continuing in five-minute intervals till the minute hand reaches 3.

The amount of time isn’t as important as the remembering- setting aside time to watch and wait with those few faithful followers who did not abandon Jesus.

Below you will find a guide for praying on Good Friday. It includes the scriptures relating Jesus’ words from the cross plus some sentences to focus your prayer time. The more formal prayers come from the book Listening At Golgotha by Peter Storey. (Click here for a review of the book and purchasing information. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!)

May this guide be a blessing to you as you seek the deeper graces of God this holy season. Your comments for its continued improvement are appreciated. – Lisa <><

Good Friday is not about us trying to “get right with God.” It is about us entering the difference between God and humanity and just touching it for a moment. Touching the shimmering sadness of humanity’s insistence that we can be our own gods, that we can be pure and all-powerful. – Nadia Bolz-Weber

PRAYER GUIDE: HOURLY SCRIPTURES AND PRAYERS FOR GOOD FRIDAY
The 9am Reading and Prayers
Luke 23:32-38 NRSV

Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

Holy Jesus,
Your forgiving love saves and disturbs me.
Without it, I am lost,
yet, if I receive it, I must practice it.
By your mercy, make me merciful;
by your forgiveness, help me to forgive as I have been forgiven. Amen.

Continue by praying for all who are trapped in bitterness, revenge, and resentment so that all may know the freedom of forgiving as Christ did. Include yourself, as needed.

The 10am Reading and Prayers
Luke 23:39-43 NRSV

One of the criminals who was hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Holy Jesus,
Love held you to the cross for my sake, but not mine alone.
Your love is frightening in its breadth and depth;
When I embrace it, it stretches my poor spirit.
Enlarge my heart to make space for your friends;
Let me love as one forgiven. Today. Amen.

Continue by praying for the salvation of family and friends who do not know Christ,
For those living in our community, in our nation, and across the world

If you would like to extend your prayer time this hour, click here for an incredibly beautiful prayer by Steve Garnaas-Holmes entitled Jesus, Remember Me.

The 11am Reading and Prayers
John 19:25-27 NRSV

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

Holy Jesus,
I give thanks for your mother
and all like her who have borne the pain of loving too deeply.
Thank you for your gift the church.
Help me receive as your gift all whom I encounter, whoever they are,
And to become family to them in Your name. Amen.

Continue by praying for Christian unity,
For the dividing walls between denominations to come down
For congregations in the midst of misunderstanding, pain, and conflict
For protection from the evil one and all that distances God’s people
That your congregation, and every congregation, would love as Christ loves
Embodying the hospitality and welcome only Christ can provide
Sharing His Word and ways with grace, compassion, and boldness

The Noon Reading and Prayers
Matthew 27:45-46 NRSV

From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Begin by praying for all who are suffering,
For our brothers and sisters across the globe who are persecuted for their faith
For those who are suffering because they do not have access to daily needs-
clean water, housing, education, medical care
For those who are suffering due to war, injustice and tyrannical leaders
For those who are suffering due to mental or physical illness, addiction, or grief

If you would like to extend your prayer time this hour, click here for an incredibly beautiful prayer by Steve Garnaas-Holmes entitled Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani 

Holy Jesus,
There was no suffering like yours.
I am silent in the darkness, Your darkness.
There can be no words, only worship. Amen.

The 1pm Reading and Prayers
John 19:28-29 NRSV

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth.

Holy Jesus,
All the longing of God,
Through all the ages, for all humanity,
Cries out to me from your cross.
Give me a heart to hear that cry
And a longing to be found by your love. Amen.

Pray today for all who are longing,
Longing for love
Longing for answers
Longing for healing
Longing for daily bread
Longing for justice
Longing for hope

The 2pm Reading and Prayers
John 19:30 NRSV

When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.”

Silent adoration and wonder

The 3pm Reading and Prayers
Luke 23:44-43 NRSV

Darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.

Rest now, Holy Jesus
Hero of the Cross
Your work is done.
The world has done its sinning,
And you have done your loving
Each beyond limit
And, in the end, limitless love prevails.
Your dying becomes my hope and the hope of the world. Amen.

Offer prayers of surrender, commitment, and thanksgiving

****************
Click here for an excellent article by Rev. James Martin, S.J. entitled The Five Lessons of Good Friday

Prayer Guide: Hourly Scriptures and Prayers for Good Friday compilation
© 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia.
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting or church setting with proper attribution. Proper attribution would include references to Peter Storey’s book, Listening at Golgotha, the source of the formal prayers. (Published by The Upper Room – October 1, 2004)