Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.

3/15/2008

The Passion

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, which will begin outdoors with a reading of the Palm Gospel, continue with a procession inside and then later a reading of Jesus' Passion (which means suffering) from Matthew's Gospel.

As I have preached on this Gospel reading before saying,
While, there never is an audience in a worship service, that distinction is made clear on Palm Sunday. It may seem that there is no distinction between a congregation and an audience, but there is a vast difference. An audience gathers to watch a performance. A congregation is a group gathered for worship. Some of us have roles as readers, acolytes and even as preacher, but all of us are active participants.

On Palm Sunday, we kick the congre-gations’ partici-pation up a notch. We began this service outside with a reading from Matthew about Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We proclaimed “Hosanna in the highest.” Then we took up palm branches and sang and processed our way into church. You played the role of the crowd that welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem. That was the easy part. But Palm Sunday is also known as Passion Sunday, for on this day we recount the story of Jesus’ suffering and death. And the crowd that welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem also took part in the betrayal, which followed that Friday.

Each week at King of Peace, as the congregation, you take part in the worship. This happens in your hearts, and also in the words of the liturgy. Easy words usually. Words like, “Our Father who art in heaven” and “Thanks be to God.” Today, the liturgy puts some very different words in your mouth:

“Let him be crucified.”
“Let him be crucified.”
And the most daunting of all,
“His blood be on us and on our children.”

Harsh words. Painful words. Words that seem to tempt God to take us seriously in a way we don’t want God to act.

On that Friday we now call Good, Jesus’ betrayal was complete. He had been deserted by his disciples and rejected by the Jewish leadership, as well as the crowd that had welcomed him so enthusiastically with palm branches and cloaks spread on the road. Mocked, beaten and finally crucified by the Roman officials, the man we call the King of Peace was put to death as a threat to the peace of Jerusalem. In starkest contrast to his welcome into the city gates, Jesus was taken outside of the city to be killed. Like all criminals, they did not want his death to desecrate the city. Jesus’ cross stood by the road leading into town as a warning to any other trouble makers not to follow in his footsteps.

Darkness covered the whole land from noon to three. Then Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani? My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus’ betrayal was complete and we join in that betrayal each Palm Sunday taking on the words of the crowd as our own words.
The sermon went on to explain the grace in the bleak story of the passion. The full text of the sermon is online here: From Passion to Table.

Palm Crosses
palm crossIf you want to be able to tie palm fronds into Palm Crosses, clear directions are online with photos at kingofpeace.org/palmcrosses and zipped as an RTF file with photos at kingofpeace.org/palmcrosses/palmcrosses.zip.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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2 Comments:

  • At 3/16/2008 12:37 AM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    Is the congregation The Church?

     
  • At 3/16/2008 7:38 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    The church is not the building but the people. You can have a congregation without a church building, but no church without a congregation. And then our congregation is part of The Church, the larger Body of Christ at work in the world and in the liturgy, which is the work of the people.

     

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