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Monday, March 18, 2013

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Palms or Passion, Celebration or Depression? Edition

As we begin to move into the marathon that is the next 2 weeks, let us pray (source)
God we gather on this day to begin a week of contrasts.
From hope to despair to hope again.
As we begin the week, as we join with the crowd
help us cut through the noise to see what is happening, to see what is at stake.
As the story unfolds,
open us to both the hope and the pain.
In this time of worship,
prepare us to celebrate, to weep, and to wait. We pray in the name of the one who leads the parade as we share the words he shared with his closest friends...

SO what do you do on the Sunday that begins Holy Week???

A Palm Parade
Is it Palms only and you stick with readings like these?  Will there be palm branches and a parade in your place this Sunday?  Anyone brave enough to bring in an actual donkey?

Or do you want to make sure the Passion story is heard and so you use readings like these?

Or do you do a combination of them, starting with Palms and then transitioning during the service into Passion?

What sermon is bursting out with the triumphal entry?  Is there something that you have to preach because if you don't the stones (or bricks or lumber, depending on the construction of your worship space) themselves will preach it for you? 

Those Stones????
Or if you go into the telling of the "whole" story with the Passion readings (possibly because some people would otherwise go from Palm celebration to Easter celebration with no dip into the "depressing" part we tell on Thursday and Friday of next week) what do you do with them?  Read and preach?  Reader's theatre to break up the story?  Do you feel the need to point out what makes Luke's telling of the story different from Matthew or Mark or John?  Or just let the story speak for itself?

Nice Summation
And how do you transition folks from Palms to Passion?  (My I am full of questions this week)  I always think of a scene from The Two Towers (the book, not the movie) in these discussions.  As Frodo and Sam are climbing up to Cirith Ungol Sam is talking about if they are successful and what tales the book would tell of their quest.  Then Frodo says that this is the part where the young folk will say to put the book away, this part is too depressing (paraphrasing at will because I am too lazy to go downstairs and get the actual book for the quote).  But sometimes we need to depressing/scary/dark parts of the great stories to fully appreciate the joy and the light.

As we move into the marathon that is coming up, share in the comments how your worship planning is going....


  1. I love liminality, or rather (because liminality is so UNCOMFORTABLE most of the time) I love entering into and embracing the concept of the inbetween place...

    So, on first blush...this is where I "think" I am going

    The inbetween place
    parade to passion

    Being fully present to the reality that our celebration and our recrimination, being forgiven and having sinned are all part of the same journey...

    grief customs
    how do we grieve
    How is our sorrow made manifest
    anger, tears, despair, hope, regret?

    A period of time when you step away from the world (40 days, a year)
    many of these customs are similar to customs around birth

    viewing and visiting, the lying in, 40 days rest/recuperation before the birthing mom rejoins the community, the post partum baby moon.

    Life transitions demand time, and we do ourselves a disservice when we deny ourselves that time (and society does us a disservice when we are denied that time),
    that time to be in the in-between place

    In the tension between our hopes and dreams and our despair--this is when life happens.

    The hosanna moments, juxtaposed against our participation in the crucifixion...these are real, real life...

    So, there you go, my preliminary, I was up TOO early in the morning, thoughts.

  2. We read the entire Passion, with different readers taking the different parts. This year, I am not preaching. We've put this in the bulletin: "On this day, God’s Holy Word speaks to our hearts. No sermon could touch our hearts more deeply. We sit in quiet meditation on the story of the Passion."

    1. We did this on Good Friday a few years back. It was very effective and much appreciated.

    2. I love this. An idea for next year.

    3. I may borrow that line...I've waffled back and forth on whether to preach or not, but maybe not this year.

  3. I am going with the title Mob Politics and planning to talk about the power of a mob by contrasting the two mobs in the story. I posit that while there may have been some overlap they are two different groups of people.

    My early thoughts are be found here

  4. We have a LONG service. Procession around the suburb with the Roman Catholics and also a brass band. The RC priest will give a short homily just before we part company at a point in the procession so I will say very little later - perhaps sum up his words for those who can't process and a few words about how we now focus on Jesus' journey for the week rather than our own journeys. I will read a shorter version of the passion - I loathe dramatic readings as I've never yet found one done well!

  5. Palms here. We have Maundy Thursday and Easter Vigil services that will invite people into the passion, and I will be referencing those and urging people to come.

    And that Practice of Donkey-Riding sermon is becoming a sermon about what is involved in donkey-riding as Jesus does it : help, humility, and hope -- hope in the unexpected rather than the expected as a transition into the passion, since the parade-type hopes are about to be dashed in favor of a much better hope.

    1. thanks Robin,

      I was planning in Palm Sunday but not sure where to go.

  6. Palm/Passion here using the Luke text. Several different readers and some props to go with. Two years ago we did all Palms and last year a combo. Robin, I hope you'll post your to hear your wisdom on the practice of donkey riding.

  7. Palms here--it seems that the MT/GF services are well attended (though this is a new church for me so I guess I'll find out!) so I'm planning to have the passion read on Friday.

    We'll process with palms and then use a brief dramatic reading that gives us three voices of people who saw the parade. I'm hoping the service (and the sermon, currently titled "cheerleaders and naysayers") will make a turn that brings us to see the deep irony in the Palm Sunday story--that ultimately, it will be the stones that cry out. I'm moving the confession to the end of the service because I want us to move from celebration to recognition that even cheerleaders aren't real followers...or something like that. The confession is adapted from Before the Amen, I think, and involves the phrase "we are conscious of the way religious phrases fall so easily from our lips..."

    Hoping for some more clarity to write early this week. Like, say, tomorrow. If that doesn't work, I'll be here late Saturday, begging for help as this is my 7th or 8th Palm Sunday in a row and at some point I run out of things to say. ;-)

  8. I discovered last year that while Maundy Thursday is well attended, the Good Friday Service is poorly attended. So, as much as I prefer to keep to a Palm-only Sunday, we're doing Palm/Passion.

    As it stands right now, we'll begin with the palm reading. I'm doing a 'lessons and hymns' format with readings broken up by hymns. I am considering changing the congregational part of the reader's theatre from usual crowd responses to everything the disciples say. It might be a new way to invite them into the story.

    To transition from palms to passion, we're reading the Isaiah text and the psalm - juxtaposing the image of a conquering king with the suffering servant.

    I moved the confession from the beginning of worship to the upper room (we don't have communion this Sunday) and I'm beginning the confession with "Like the disciples, we too have tried to be the greatest rather than give our lives in service. At times, we act in ways that deny our faith, and to betray God’s love for us. Satan sifts us like wheat, so again we we turned back, we returned to the Lord asking for forgiveness, mercy, and strength for the each day." I may move the absolution to the end - keeping the tension of our sinfulness open throughout the passion reading. I think this might be particularly effective with the congregation playing the part of the disciples in the readings.

    We're ending with the Philippians reading as a meditation. I don't plan on preaching, but may offer very brief thoughts at certain spots in the service.

    That's the plan at this point, but I have some revising to do. It's pretty lengthy at this point and since I travel between services I have to keep it to an hour.

  9. I am doing palms/passion with lots of meditation, no sermon per se. In the Passion reading I am taking a tip I read somewhere in Textweek about having the congregation read the part of Jesus, rather than shouting "crucify!" as I've always had them do before. After all, we are the Easter people who have become the Body of Christ, so we should get to play his part.

    I'm making the Vestry members and other leaders be Pilate, the soldiers, and the Elders.


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