Monthly Archives: February 2008

March 30 2008

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for March 30 (Easter 2)
john 20:19-29
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

The 2nd Sunday in Easter (or the “Sunday after Easter” for people who assume Easter is only one day rather than a whole season) is often called “low Sunday” because attendance is usually spotty. Why is this? Did Easter take it all out of us? Did it take so much energy to sing “alleluia” that we need a week off? Or did the “come down” after Easter just leave us kind of empty? We sing “Christ is risen” and celebrate the victory of life over death, then we go back to the “real world” and nothing has changed and death seems just as victorious as ever. This story from John is a perfect follow-up to Easter, because it shows people trying to deal with the new reality. Thomas (often called “doubting” Thomas) wants to touch Jesus’ body to confirm the resurrection. It raises an important question for us: where might WE touch Jesus’ body? One place is communion (which we are not scheduled to celebrate this Sunday, sadly). Another place is the “least of these” (see Matthew 25). A final place is, of course, the church, which is the “body of Christ”, after all. So how do we find the risen Christ? Break bread with friends and strangers, serve people in need (the “least of these”), and stick it out with that wacky community called the church. That’s where you’ll find him. (RAF)

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Palm Sunday 2008 (March 16)

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March 16
Palm Sunday
Matthew 21.1-11

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’ This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
‘Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’

Today we celebrate Jesus’ “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem–a parade that we often imagine as being of mythic proportions, with huge crowds, coats flung on the road, and palm fronds waving in welcome. In the midst of this parade we often miss some of the significance of this act. There are very real social and political ramifications to this story. This is no normal parade–this is a parody of a royal procession, with the king riding a donkey instead of a war horse. This is a (intentional?) fulfillment of Messianic prophecy–in fact, Matthew takes such pains to tell us it was written by the prophet that he mistranslates the couplet to say that Jesus rode not just a donkey but its colt as well! This is an act that comes right up to the line of rebellion–Jesus and his followers, people who came with him from the countryside, and those who’ve gathered along the way, come into Jerusalem and the whole city ends up in turmoil. In Matthew’s account Jesus heads straight to the Temple for a workout with tables and moneychangers.
Who is the king here–the one on the donkey, or the one in the palace? Who has the real power here–the one with a crowd of country rabble, or the one with priests and soldiers? Where is real security to be found–in a royal parade or in a procession led by a donkey? (TCP)