Archive for the ‘Palm Sunday’ Tag

Exodus and Hebrews, Part I: Misunderstanding Events   1 comment

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Above:  Christ Pantocrator

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 8:1-32

Psalm 84 (Morning)

Psalms 42 and 32 (Evening)

Hebrews 1:1-14

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Some Related Posts:

Hebrews 1:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/week-of-1-epiphany-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/proper-22-year-b/

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-for-monday-of-passion-weekholy-week/

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TECHNICAL NOTE:

Exodus 7:26-8:28 in Jewish and Roman Catholic Bibles equals Exodus 8:1-32 in Protestant ones.  So the Exodus citation in the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod daily lectionary refers to the Protestant versification.

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With this post I turn to that part of the LCMS daily lectionary (2006 version) which pairs the Book of Exodus and the Letter to the Hebrews.  The epistle belongs to the Pauline tradition without St. Paul being its author.  Origen, my favorite excommunicated theologian, wrote in the 200s,

As to who wrote the epistle, only God knows.

The epistle opens by explaining the superiority of Jesus:

He is the reflection of God’s glory and bears the impress of God’s own being, sustaining all things by his powerful command; and now that he has purged sins away, he has taken his seat at the right hand of the divine Majesty on high.

–1:3, The New Jerusalem Bible

Meanwhile, in the Book of Exodus, the plagues continue.  Frogs, lice or gnats (depending on the translation one consults), and flies overrun Egypt.  But the Pharaoh is stubborn.  He is the same uncaring character who, in 7:23-24, went home as common Egyptians, desperate for drinking water, dug wells.

How is one supposed to tie these two readings together?  Psalm 32:10 (The New Jerusalem Bible) reads

Countless troubles are in store for the wicked,

but one who trusts in Yahweh is enfolded in his faithful love.

Were the ordinary Egyptians wicked?  No, course not!  They were no more or less sinful than anyone else.  So I have difficulty reconciling the God concept in Exodus 8 with the one in Hebrews 1.  Is the God who inflicts plagues on innocent  civilians the same one whose impress Jesus bears?

I think that a series of natural disasters befell Egypt in rapid succession and that the Hebrews escaped in the process.  I think that authors of now-canonical texts interpreted these disasters as acts of God.  But I do not think that God victimized innocent civilians.  No, that is not the God whose glory I see in Jesus of Nazareth, who sacrificed himself out of love rather than betray it.  We have begun Holy Week.  May we not proceed through it with a concept of God who attacks innocent populations.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 29, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE FIRST U.S. PRESBYTERIAN BOOK OF CONFESSIONS, 1967

THE FEAST OF JIRI TRANOVSKY, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LUKE KIRBY, THOMAS COTTAM, WILLIAM FILBY, AND LAURENCE RICHARDSON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/devotion-for-the-sunday-of-the-passion-palm-sunday-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Reasons to Apologize to God and to Repent   1 comment

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Above:  The Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem

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THE ASSIGNED READINGS FOR THIS SUNDAY

At the Liturgy of the Palms:

Luke 19:28-30

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

At the Liturgy of the Word:

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Psalm 31:9-16

Philippians 2:5-11

Luke 22:14-23:56 or Luke 23:1-49

The Collect:

Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Sunday of the Passion:  Palm Sunday, Year A:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/sunday-of-the-passion-palm-sunday-year-a/

Sunday of the Passion:  Palm Sunday, Year B:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/sunday-of-the-passion-palm-sunday-year-b/

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-passion-sundaypalm-sunday/

Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-of-confession-for-passion-sundaypalm-sunday/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-of-dedication-for-passion-sundaypalm-sunday/

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-for-passion-sundaypalm-sunday/

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Passover was the Hebrew national holiday, the commemoration of the birth of the Hebrew nation via the passage on dry land through the Sea of Reeds.  Thus it was political, especially when Judea was part of the Roman Empire and a Roman fortress towered over the Temple complex in Jerusalem.  Vast throngs of pilgrims came to the city for that week, and more Roman soldiers than usual watched them.  The empire was relatively tolerant of religions–especially old ones–but only to a point.  And it did not tolerate insurrections.  If an insurrection were to erupt in the Jewish homeland, it might do so at Passover.

Temple authorities cooperated with the occupying Romans.  So even the side of the Passover ceremonies was tainted.  Thus Jesus, by confronting the Temple system, made his execution inevitable.  There was no separation of religion and state at that time and place.

That was the background of the Triumphal entry and of the rest of Holy Week.  It is easy to condemn long-dead people.  Indeed, many long-dead people deserve historical condemnation.  But may we not stop there.  Are we complicit in an exploitative system?  If so, would we be willing to kill to defend it?  Perhaps the answer to the first question is negative, so the second question is irrelevant.  In that case, how prone are we to bow to peer pressure?  Mobs cried,

Crucify him!

History and sociology confirm what experience teaches:  Many of we humans will do in groups what we will never do alone.  So, one way or another or both, we have reasons to apologize to God and repent.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 29, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE FIRST U.S. PRESBYTERIAN BOOK OF CONFESSIONS, 1967

THE FEAST OF JIRI TRANOVSKY, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LUKE KIRBY, THOMAS COTTAM, WILLIAM FILBY, AND LAURENCE RICHARDSON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/sunday-of-the-passion-palm-sunday-year-c/

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Expectations   1 comment

Above:  Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem

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THE ASSIGNED READINGS FOR THIS SUNDAY

At the Liturgy of the Palms:

Mark 11:1-11 or John 12:12-16

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

At the Liturgy of the Word:

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Psalm 31:9-16

Philippians 2:5-11

Mark 14:1-15:47 or Mark 15:1-39, (40-47)

The Collect:

Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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A Related Post:

Sunday of the Passion:  Palm Sunday, Year A:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/sunday-of-the-passion-palm-sunday-year-a/

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Palm Sunday is liturgically unusual.  It sits at the beginning of Holy Week yet summarizes said week.  During the rest of the week one reads of various events ranging from the cleansing of the Temple to the Last Supper to the crucifixion to the interment in the tomb.  So there is much redundancy in the full observance of Holy Week.  The designers of the Revised Common Lectionary seem to have arranged the readings for Palm Sunday so that one can skip the intervening days and proceed directly to Easter Sunday.

Historical scholarship reveals the presence of a variety of expectations as to what a Messiah would do and how he would do it at the time of Jesus.  Some Jews did not even expect a Messiah.  But many Jews looked for a national liberator, for they lived under occupation.  Passover, the annual celebration of the deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt brought many pilgrims to Jerusalem, raised the political stakes, and made Rome nervous.  If someone were to begin a revolution, he might do it at Passover.

What did the cheering crowds expect of Jesus?  What did the Roman guards think as they watched the Triumphal Entry?  For that matter, what do we ant Jesus to be and fear that he might be?  If Jesus does not match our expectations, the problem lies within us, not him.  If there is a misunderstanding, we are confused party.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

 JULY 28, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE PIONEERING FEMALE EPISCOPAL PRIEST, 1974 AND 1975

THE FEAST OF ANTONIO VIVALDI, COMPOSER

THE FEAST JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH, COMPOSER

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/sunday-of-the-passion-palm-sunday-year-b/

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Holy Week Begins   1 comment

Above:  Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

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THE ASSIGNED READINGS FOR THIS SUNDAY

At the Liturgy of the Palms:

Matthew 2:1-11

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

At the Liturgy of the Word:

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Psalm 31:9-16

Philippians 2:5-11

Matthew 26:14-27:66 or Matthew 27:11-54

The Collect:

Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The Passover commemorated the liberation of the Jews from slavery in Egypt.  For the annual celebration of this momentous event many people entered Jerusalem, swelling the urban population for a few days.  Imagine the politics of this religious festival under Roman occupation.  This would be the optimal time for someone to proclaim himself the great liberator of the Jews from foreign rule in their homeland.

The Roman Empire had a relatively tolerant policy toward religions, permitting the Jews special privileges.  Yet this tolerance had definite limits, including rebellion or the appearance thereof.

Now that I have set the historical stage the events of the following days through Good Friday, which this Sunday sums up, make great sense.  The political waters were turbulent, and the best way for Jesus to have survived that week was to keep a low profile.  He did no such thing.

Many of those who hailed Jesus as a conquering hero on one day yelled “Crucify him!” later in the week.  He came, sending overt symbols contrary to the Messiah-as-Conquering Hero role, but that did not matter to many during the Triumphal Entry.  During the next few days Jesus acted against the interests of religious leaders cheating the devout and collaborating with the Roman occupiers.  He was going to die, for that at least.  It was a great injustice.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 19, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SADHU SUNDAR SINGH, TEACHER AND EVANGELIST

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/sunday-of-the-passion-palm-sunday-year-a/

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