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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: "Sweet Hosannahs" Edition

Lectionary readings here .

The air crackles with tension in this week's Gospel lesson as Jesus enters into Jerusalem in a most ironic way -- with the fanfare of a conquering Roman general, but riding a humble donkey. The joyous onlookers laying their cloaks down in the road may just as well be throwing a gauntlet at the political and religious establishments.

What are your sermon/worship planning thoughts this week? Are you preaching on the lectionary texts or something else? Share your musings here!


  1. I am thinkng of the idea that there were in fact 2 parades that day. My opening (and VERY rough) thoughts can be found here

    For people wanting a different thought about Palm Sunday, namely did it really happen at Sukkoth, check out this article

    ANd for liturgy resources to go with my 2 parade idea check out my worship blog


  2. I'm not preaching, or praying (front and center), or processing, this coming Sunday...but I rather suspect that my pastor will recycle his favorite Palm Sunday sermon, about the donkeys: There they are, minding their own business, chewing on their hay, when God says, "I have a job for you. You're going to carry me into the crowd today." They do the job. Someone leads them back to their home. Then they go back to eating their hay. Likewise, we are all called to "carry Christ" everyday, somehow, in the context of our mundane everyday lives.

  3. I'm amazed to say I've never preached on Palm Sunday before, having used dramas or readings of the Passion instead. It's like there's a whole new day in the church calendar for me, and I'm trying to wrap my head around previewing the cross without going all the way there.

  4. I am going to rework a first person narrative on Palm Sunday. I was instructed by the co-chair of the worship committee where I am supplying, that this should be Palm Sunday. She's looking for joyful and uplifting. None of that messy Passion narrative!

    I am also going to use some of the Crossan/Borg material that Gord referenced in his post.

    When I finish typing I will post it midweek. Or maybe even today.

  5. I haven't gotten very far yet, but I'm cracking open the Crossan/Borg book. We always do the shorter passion narrative, also begin in the fellowship hall with a live donkey and a procession. It's very festive. So the reading kind of turns the mood to more somber. Nobody has instructed us to leave out the messy passion stuff.

    Not this year, but some years have used Walt Wangerin's The Cry of the Whole Congregation. It's loosely based on Luke, and is very effective. No sermon needed. I'm sure many others know of it.

    Thanks for reminding me about Borg and Crossan!

    And by the way, LutheranChik, I loved the donkey idea!

  6. I'm not preaching this weekend...instead trying to get my sermon ready for Midweek Service tomorrow. Anyone mind if I consider this my "11th hour preacher party"?

    Thanks to a brilliant idea, someone (namely me) decided that for our midweek theme of "Encounters with Jesus" this week should be "Women who accompanied Jesus." The gospel is Luke 8:1-3 and we are also reading 2 Timothy 1:1-14.

    What I have so far can be summed up with this...I'm grateful for witnesses for the faith, for those who have been bold to follow Christ. I'm grateful that God gives faith and give us people to show us faith in 'real life.' With the help of the Holy Spirit, may we be such examples for others.

    Not quite long enough, even though it can be a shorter than usual since it's our more informal midweek service.

    Any brilliant insights? Any not brilliant insights? Thoughts welcome!

  7. We are trying something new this year. We will be doing Palm/Passion Sunday, processing with Palms (although not from outside to inside because it's still darn cold in Wyoming). We'll be reading the account of the triumphal entry, then moving into the longer Passion narrative, using a Lessons & Hymns format that I found in the "Companion to the Book of Common Worship."

    And for all doing Passion Sunday, here are some words of wisdom from Fred Craddock on Passion Sunday, from "Preaching Through the Christian Year": "On this particular Sunday, the minister will want to resist the temptation to moralize, to exhort, or to grow sentimental. The text will create its own word in the minds and hearts of the listeners." For this reason, I'm not preaching this Sunday and just letting the text set the tone as we enter into Holy Week.

  8. I also have decided not to preach this time around. Last year I preached on the political implications of declaring Jesus king. I think this year I want to focus on readings alone and take the congregation from the palms to the passion. This will be a first for me - but the texts speak for themselves and I think it will be well receieved.

  9. I AM preaching (when in my own congregation I gave a short or no sermon, and let the readings speak, but that is not the way here), but I try not to get in the way of the readings. My best sermon, so far, imho, was the one titled "The test of a Messiah," in which I said that the words, "He saved others; he cannot save himself," the insults of the religious leaders, is actually the truth. The true messiah saves others, not himself. The false ones save themselves.

  10. I have been pondering for several weeks now the whole two parade thing--though I confess I've not read the Last Week. I am planning (and hoping?!?!!) to use two movie clips--one from Alexander and one from the Pasolini film of Matthew's gospel, and to talk about which parade we would prefer to take part in. I'm hoping that the sermon will somehow lead us from the big opening hymn with brass and children parading around with palms to the passion narrative.

    Or something like that.

  11. I'm following Craddock's advice and letting the texts stand for themselves.

    We'll read both Palm and Passion.

  12. Last year I used the Borg Crossan book as the basis for a dramatic presentation taking us through the whole week. It was a much more moving experience than i expected. Midway through I left through the back and returned singing "Were you there." I started crying during the first lines and the congregation picked it up and sang the rest of the first verse while I recovered.

    Would any of you dramatists like me to post the outline?

  13. As a former associate pastor, I've preached 5 Palm Sundays and zero Easters. I guess actually 4 - - one year the kids did a completely unrelated musical, drove me crazy.

    Anyway, my favorite year was two years ago, and that will make a repeat appearance this year since I'm in my first few months of my new call (and my first few months of ever preaching every Sunday, I'm ready for a break). That one is called "Blessings and Betrayals" and it was the center point, pivotal point in a worship service that moved from Palm to Passion through the service. I think it went fairly well that year, and I'm more excited about it this year since I have a little more freedom in the actual composition of the worship service.

    Our Sunday School kids in the drama Workshop Rotation a few weeks ago did a sort of slide show play. They would set a tableau of a scene from the Passion narrative then take a picture. We've got the whole slide show set to a reading of the passion narrative, and will show it at the end of the service. We'll go from high Palm Sunday parade and big hymns and cute kids singing and waving palms, to sermon that starts with the joy and ends moving toward Good Friday, to "praying with Jesus in the garden" for the prayers of the people, to this slideshow in the place of our usual final hymn. The cute kids we had up front with palms will then be seen acting out the arrest, trial, and crucifixion. It wasn't initially intended to be used in worship, but when I saw it I had to. It's an interesting feeling seeing kids acting out this very "grown up" story.

    Anyway, we'll end just with the final scene of Jesus on the cross, and a brief verbal dismissal, but not necessarily a full "benediction". The keyboardist will play us out with Lentish piano music. We went back and forth about departing in silence.

    Anyway, sorry for the long post. This will be a different sort of service, but I like going from Palm to Passion because not everyone makes it to the mid-week services, so some people in our congregation never have to experience Maundy Thursday and/or Good Friday before their Easter. It seems to me to be a denial of some of the important stuff!

  14. Our plan for this year is to have the first half of the service be Palm Sunday and the second half Passion. One member is doing some special music at critical points in the reading of the Passion. I, too, am leaning toward Fred Craddock's suggestion this year.

  15. Oooh, Diane, what a thought...

    I'm pondering the reality that Judas was likely among the crowd with the other disciples, and maybe shouting and enjoying the celabratory aspect of it all, but was soon to deny the Lord.

    Palm Sunday can be celebratory, but really is the beginning of the Passion. How soon Judas did his shocking deed, how soon the cheers turned to cries of "crucify" and how prone we are to enjoy the fun but run when it gets tough to be a follower of Jesus.

    This was all clear at midnight. I shoult have gotten up and written it down, because now it's all muddy.

  16. Please Rev. Maria post the outline. Always looking for worship resources.

  17. I'm just happy I made it here today. I even posted a bit about the missing Tuesdays in my weeks - I never seemed to make it in here anymore. By the time I realize it's Tuesday, it's actually Wednesday or Thursday! :-)

  18. I'm adding a bit to the Palm Sunday text -- instead of stopping where the lectionary would have us, I'm including the story about Jesus and the money changers (after all, it's the first thing that Matthew says Jesus did once he got into the city...and it's all part of the same day). My hope is to set up the rest of Holy Week with this latter part of the Palm Sunday story reminding us that there's a shadow to this day: Jesus is never who we expect him to be, and doesn't do what we expect him to.

  19. Not preaching this week - instead we are on the Oregon coast awaiting the birth of another grandchild. Great ideas - will have to save for next year. Last year we did the whole palm procession and readings - then at the end of the service did the Passion reading and went out in silence. One church made lots of signs for the "parade" -- hosanna, yay Jesus, etc. and then had a garbage can where the signs were broken and tossed as people left.

  20. Our service will take a similar tone to rev maria's - celebration of the Palms turning into the beginning of the Passion story.

    We have a liturgical dance group coming to facilitate both the palm parade and the movement from Palm to Passion.

    I don't have a sermon, but a short time of reflection. I may do a brief monologue as an observer of the events in the readings, though I haven't decided for sure on that...


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