Tag Archives: palm sunday

Jesus as Messiah

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday at the Table, and during worship, we will explore Jesus as Messiah. Messiah means “anointed”. It comes from the Hebrew Bible originally as a way to talk about those who would eventually become kings and had been anointed by prophets (or God) to lead God’s people. The Gospels in the New Testament seem to paint a broad picture of people hungry for a messiah, an anointed one to come and throw off the yoke of the Roman empire. This is all fueled by the prophets of the Old Testament who spoke of a suffering servant or fulfillment of God’s plan in a person who would restore Israel’s fortunes and bring about restoration (spiritually and politically).

Wow, I know that’s a lot of words.

In a sense, I break it down like this:

  • The people had expectations for this person who was going to change their situation. I see parallels in the way we look to others to solve our problems or give us wisdom to live our lives by. A Messiah, in our modern day, could easily be a politician, preacher, spouse, boss, family member, product inventor, salesperson, or activist.
  • The challenge with a messiah is that such a person was called by God not the people. In other words, their agenda is likely different than the people’s expectations. Like an elected official who votes for a bill that his constituents are against (even if it makes sense and is helpful to those they serve), these conflicting realities rarely lead to good times.
  • If someone we pick as a messiah to save our college basketball program, church, organization, business, city, or country doesn’t live up to expectation, it’s pretty easy for us to latch on to a new messiah and toss the old one out. However, if we keep doing that, we are likely to go nowhere. It’s not that we need to put up with bad leadership – it’s sometimes not the leader that is the problem.
  • Jesus was a weird Messiah anyway. He was clear with his disciples that he was going to be put to death by the hands of the empire and the people. Still, no one seemed to get it. They were so eager to put their own expectations on him, that they failed to listen and realize the deeper thing Jesus was about – ushering in a new reality, a new kingdom, on earth. Like the clip above, did those crowds listen or did they hear what they wanted to hear?
  • Finally, Jesus’ parade (or death march) ultimately led to a confrontation of all that is evil and all that is broken about the human condition and our world. Kind of funny that few people seemed to think of that as something their messiah might be about… and yet, isn’t it a lot better than just overthrowing an empire?

If you want to join the conversation tomorrow with some of your own questions or perspectives, join us tomorrow at the Table, 9:30 AM, in the Community Room.

Stand Up

We’re doing this tune on Sunday as an alternative Palm Sunday piece, but we will close our service with “Were You There” to move us into the pain and suffering of Holy Week. I love finding different music that breathes new life into the traditions and scripture of our worship. Credit really goes to Doug over at his blog. Awesome work.

The Ironies of Palm Sunday

A Donkey Rests After Carrying the King of KingsHoly Week is here, folks.

It may feel like it’s a little late. It may feel like it’s early. Regardless, it’s here.

Are you ready?

I am going to be making an effort to post something everyday of the week during Holy Week, tracing the journey as a community, as a Christian, and even as a bystander to all the busy-ness of life during this time. Some of it will be thought-provoking. Some of it will be funny. (And some likely stupid…)

Thinking ahead, Palm Sunday is one of those real difficult days in the life of the church. Yes, we shout “Hosannas” and wave palm branches. It seems like a happy day, that precursor to the party that is Easter. But, really, Palm Sunday is a precursor to the storm that is Holy Week. It’s filled with bitter irony, like the same crowd that shouts “Hosanna” to Jesus is the same crowd that shouts “Crucify him” later in the week.

Eugene Cho wrote a blog post back in 2009 about the irony of Palm Sunday:

The image of Palm Sunday is one of the greatest ironies.  Jesus Christ – the Lord of Lords, King of Kings, the Morning Star, the Savior of all Humanity, and we can list descriptives after descriptives – rides into a procession of “Hosanna, Hosanna…Hosanna in the Highest” - on a donkey – aka - an ass.

He goes on to say it’s like his friend Shane Claiborne once said, “that a modern equivalent of such an incredulous image is of the most powerful person in our modern world, the United States President, riding into a procession…on a unicycle.”

Such an image is indicative of the rollercoaster ride that is Holy Week in the Christian faith – from perceived victory to utter defeat to transcendant eucatastrophe.

Hey, maybe you need some irony in your life. Travel with us – our journey begins Sunday.

Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg Hunt - April 17, Noon

The Power of Symbols

This Sunday is Palm Sunday, one of great traditions in the Christian Church where we celebrate Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. You can find the scripture passages about Palm Sunday here: Matthew 21:1-9, Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:28-38, and John 12:12-19. The Table will be using the John 12 text for our conversation this Sunday.

Photo credit: dave from morguefile.com

Like most religions, Christianity borrows a lot from its cultural surroundings. Really, we keep doing this today. Palm branches are of course a fixture in the history and regional landscape of the Middle East and the Mediterranean, but they didn’t become a symbol of victory until they were sort of coopted from Roman tradition. Later on in Christianity, martyrs were almost always identified with palm branches in drawings or on their tombs, but before that, palm branches were symbols the Roman empire used to honor athletes or celebrate wartime victory.

Thus, the Gospel of John makes it pretty clear that the crowd gathered to welcome Jesus was doing more than just celebrating the arrival of their Messiah – they were making a political statement normally reserved for those in power.

Join us Sunday as we explore this thought and what other symbols in our world speak to us and to our faith.

- Rev. Nathan


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 30 other followers

%d bloggers like this: