Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for the Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday, Episcopal Book of Common Prayer)
Here we are preachers–heading into the home stretch of Holy Week. Lent has felt short to me this year, unlike most years, and I’m stunned to be looking at these readings. But here they are.
We tend to refer to this Sunday as Palm Sunday, and in the Liturgy of the Psalms we get the story of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, but for many, if not most of us the reading of the Passion narrative will dominate our liturgies, this year from Matthew. It’s a long reading, giving us a real set up for Holy Week and Easter; indeed the argument has been made that hearing this gospel is all the preparation those who don’t attend Holy Week services will get. I’ve actually debated with friends about whether we should try to preach on this gospel or let it stand on its own. If you do decide to preach it, will you tackle the whole thing, or focus on one part of the story? Working Preacher offers several different themes from this gospel that might help us find focus for our preaching.
Although it’s hard to imagine focusing on anything other than the gospel this week, the other readings provide relevant alternatives. The reading from Isaiah is one of four poem found in Isaiah dealing with servant leadership, a popular phrase in today’s world. The example in Isaiah might provide a jumping off point for considering Jesus’ servant leadership. And the reading from the letter to the Phillppians sums up all of Holy Week in the form of a beautiful hymn which might provide a fresh approach to this important Sunday.
Do you know where you are headed this week? Are you ready for the onslaught of Holy Week? Share your ideas, questions, ponderings and inspirations with us here.