In God’s hands

Palm Sunday-Passion Week (March 28, 2010)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Is. 50:4-9a; Ps. 118:1-2, 19-29; Ps. 31:9-16; Phil. 2:5-11; Lk. 19:28-40, 22:14-23:56

This week we traveled to Jerusalem to say farewell to the Lehman family, who is completing their MCC assignment as Jerusalem Representatives and returning to Pennsylvania. They have built strong relationships with MCC’s Palestinian and Israeli partners. We will miss their friendship.

Cindy with Elijah and Heather Lehman

Today we had opportunity to participate in the Palm Sunday procession, tracing the route where Jesus rode a borrowed colt while the crowds scattered palm branches.

Palm Sunday crowds begin the walk down from the Mt. of Olives

Thousands of Christians from around the world joined Palestinian Christians in a festive walk from Bethphage to the Mount of Olives, then down through the Garden of Gethsemane and up into the Old City of Jerusalem. The crowd sang hymns and choruses in many languages as we walked.

Palm Sunday pilgrims enter Jerusalem though St. Stephen's Gate

The Common Lectionary readings this week move dramatically from crowds who shout, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” (as Jesus rides a donkey into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday), to crowds who shout “Crucify, crucify him!” on Good Friday. The texts also offer poignant examples of placing one’s complete trust in God, rather than taking matters in our own hands.

In the Old Testament reading, God’s servant is willing to suffer injury and insult (Is. 50:6) because he remembers that the God who helps and vindicates him is near (vv.7-9).

The psalmist also suffers distress, grief, sorrow and misery. Many taunt him, scheme against him and plot to take his life (Ps. 31:9-13). Rather than seeking revenge, the psalmist affirms: “But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.” (vv. 14-15).

In the Epistle reading, Paul urges his readers to have the same mind as Christ Jesus who “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave” (Phil. 2:7); and who “humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.” (v.8)

Olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane

In the Gospel reading, Jesus humbly rides a donkey into Jerusalem; shares a meal with his disciples; is arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, and is tried, convicted and crucified (Luke 19-23). In all this, Jesus demonstrates complete trust in God. Before he is arrested he prays, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done” (22:42). As soldiers mock and prepare to crucify him, Jesus declares, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (23:34). Just before he dies, Jesus cries out, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (23:46).

Jesus modeled what it looks like to trust God completely. As we enter this Passion Week, we pray that our trust in God will grow as well.

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