Posted by: jblevins | April 1, 2009

Palm Sunday Lenten Reflection

This year, we invite you to include as part of your Lenten practices to consider your impact upon God’s Creation – and what steps you can take in your own life to bring yourself back into relationship with it. Each Sunday, we will send an email including the lectionary text for that week, a brief reflection, some study questions, and then daily actions.

Henry Nouwen writes, “In the midst of a turbulent, often chaotic, life we are called to reach out with courageous honesty to our innermost self, with restless care to our fellow human beings, and with increasing prayer to our God. To do that, however, we must face and explore our inner restlessness, our mixed feelings toward others, and our deep-seated suspicions about the absence of God.” It is this journey that Lent is all about, and this year, we invite you to join us in it.

Click here to download our reflection for Palm Sunday.

Lectionary Text: Mark 11:1-11 (NRSV)

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2and 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. 3If anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?” just say this, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.” 4They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5some of the bystanders said to them, ‘What are you doing, untying the colt?’ 6They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9Then 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!’

11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Other Lectionary Readings: Psalm 118

Reflection

It is a challenge to look at Palm Sunday and not look ahead to Easter. To know the week that this story is the preamble for. But, lets try to do that for just a minute. Imagine this event – here comes the son of a carpenter, riding a colt – and having Hosanna’s shouted at him! What an amazing scene. And, it is not just that they are proclaiming Hosanna – with this declaration they are also proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom. It is named here a couple of ways – the one who comes in the name of the Lord, the coming kingdom of our ancestor David. They are singing the praises of the fulfillment of God’s promises!

So, what does this mean? It certainly wasn’t the kingdom they were expecting on Palm Sunday that came (here I go, looking ahead – I told you it was hard!). But, those promises are fulfilled in a very different way – and one that has no fewer impacts on the way in which we live our lives. If the promise of God, the coming of the Kingdom, is realized in Jesus Christ – as this story symbolizes – then it is to us to carry on the fulfillment of those promises.

As was noted last week – those promises, that Kingdom, now lives in our hearts. And it is through that power that we call this world into being. That we try to bring the world around us, the one we can impact, into accordance with the Creation, the reality, that God called good. It means adjusting the way we have lived for a long time, and seeking the reality of the Kingdom in everything that we do. In our shopping decisions, our relationships with other people and all of Creation, what we expect of our government, and more.

Palm Sunday reminds us that the Kingdom of God is here – the promise fulfilled. What that presents to us is an opportunity to celebrate, a challenge to live into, and the power with which to do so.

Guiding Questions

1. What does it meant to you that God’s promises have been fulfilled?

2. What does it look like to live in a way that constantly praises God – as both this gospel passage and the Psalm do? What implications does this have for the way we treat Creation?

Daily Actions

Sunday, April 5th Spend some time in reflection with the passages above, and the reflections. Center yourself for the Lenten journey.

Monday, April 6th Plan to celebrate God and God’s Creation this Earth Day (April 22nd) – or the Sunday on either side. Click here to download our 2009 Earth Day Resource – Celebrating and Caring For God’s Creation.

Tuesday, April 7thThis week, your representatives are home on recess. Give a visit to your local office, or attend a local town hall, and emphasize the importance of taking action on climate change. Click here for more.

Wednesday, April 8thAs you begin to enter one of the holiest stretches on the Christian calendar – Maudy Thursday through Easter Sunday, consider how the products we buy affect human health. Click here to send a letter to the editor on toxics in childrens products.

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