thinking theology

Palm Sunday

Hosanna! Save us! Oh, save us! 

The folks of the lower town — the people not welcome or not well enough, not affluent01dandelion enough, even without enough status — called to Jesus, greeting him with their rags, with the weedy palms along the road, hailing him as their hope for a better life. They missed the point… and we still do! Jesus came to show us that salvation was present from the beginning. Within the garden of earth grows everything we need for sustenance and for healing. Within community, there can be strength and love and safety. We have what we need. In every religion and philosophy, there are even instruction manuals.

But do we really want to be saved? Or rather, are we willing to pay for our salvation with how we live and with a value system that is egalitarian and inclusive? I am not sure. The holy books offer conflicting ideas about all of this, but if we look to the models we see in holy people, we will recognize generosity, forgiveness, learning, change, kindness.  

This Palm Sunday sees the powers and principalities of our world, paralyzed by a virus, but still working on nuclear proliferation, on grasping at supremacy, or destroying eco systems. Power cannot acknowledge salvation.

03pussywillowWho came to Jesus’ parade? The ones who recognized that Rome would not save and would ultimately fail. Jesus offered a different hope that did not rely on the politics of the moment, a trust in what could happen when people came together as one, that miracles would be the norm, and blessings would abound.

I recognize the spirit of Jesus in much of the outpouring of compassion and communal cooperation in this health crisis. I wonder what will change because of it. I suspect lots of people just want to get back to their lives BTP(before the plague) but I hope that something has changed in our values and in our communal goals. I hope that we have learned something useful for future generations.  

Some people have suggested putting signs of spring in our daytime windows and candles at night to remind us of better days ahead, of a break in the loneliness around us that we can usually ignore. At the end of this week, we will remember that Jesus died alone, a hope seemingly defeated. If we want to take resurrection seriously, we have to begin with a dream that either resists death and oppression, or we will give in to the version of reality that facilitates oppression and denies healing and community. May weeds become cherished, May weedy people become family, may Jesus’ ancient path become our 02dandelionembrace of his vision for our broken world.

Prayers

Loving Maker,
you reveal the stars from which we are formed.
You greet us in the greening of the earth, in the creatures that leap in joy.
You who are within and around, help us to delight in our lives.
Provoke us to acts of compassion and generosity.
May we all fall to our knees in adoration of all your works,
and especially in the life of Jesus,
who showed us that fear cannot control us,
and even death must give way to the life that is you.
In all things we praise your holiness and love.
Amen.

Gracious God,
you cradle us in life and encourage us to grow into hope and new life.
In this time of violence and disease,
we also see the green shoots of generosity and sacrifice.
Help us to value these human gifts that provide food and healing,
hope and faith, to a desperate people in a desperate time.
May we who have more appreciate the struggle of those who have less,
and may we be stirred to compassion today.
May our hearts be transformed for tomorrow.
Amen.

 Holy One,
you lavish us with possibilities and creativity.
May we not hide from injustice and harm,
but stand on the side of the crucified.
May we follow him at the expense of our peace of mind,
and our personal security.
May those who have, act with generosity.
May those who have less, accept help as we also learn
the lessons of transformation of and within community.
May the name of Jesus bless all those who are the sacrifice,
the Holy offering of their lives for others.
May we revere the holiness within all life for that life is You.
Amen.

This Sunday, I have added an update of an ancient liturgy that is not priestly, but communal. In these challenging times, together yet apart, we may want to look to the simplicity and hope in our origins and in the good news as understood by Jesus, the faithful Jewish prophet, martyred by the imperialistic regime of Rome.

Collect
Beloved and Holy God,
the bones of this age — disease and famine, war and deceit — fill our hearts with fear and despair. Help us to turn these bones into the compost of new beginnings. May we step out of the valley of death into your assurance of eternal life. Let us believe that we will leave the depths to see the morning of a fresh, new world. In the name of the Jesus who died with us so that we might believe in your Life.
Amen.

Prayer over the Gifts
Maker of all,
our feet feel the soft blue clay of spring, our eyes greet the green shoots budding on the trees, our hands yearn to sprinkle seeds. And yet we are mired in a time of contagion and paralysis. Help us to remember that we are the Body of Christ, connected by water and blood, in your womb of life. As we offer our souls and bodies, let us hold each other in hope and in love.
Amen.

Prayer after Communion
Generous God,
you have made creation so that we must share in the struggle and could share in the blessings of life. May this time of pausing help us all to give thanks for the glory and complexity of this world. May we find new ways to be your church, to be a just and healing presence in your church, to be your Christ in hope, sacrifice, and resurrection.
Amen.

The following resource is downloadable and free for use as you join in prayer with friends or family, whether in person or virtually.

Apart and Together in Virtual Prayer

Another kind of prayer that is the same, but different: sitting at a window perhaps, begin by remembering what gifts life and awareness of being are. For me, the trees hold my gratitude and remind me that my roots are deep in the earth and my branches reach out in love and joy. Then I think about those I love and cradle them in my heart. Then, I reach out into the world, to the places of hurt and I imagine them being healed or comforted, imagine connecting them to the winds of the sky and the burrowing under the earth. Finally, I reach out to the Maker of all, the One who connects and is connected to all, and I let myself be healed and loved too. I let the rain of compassion wash my face and the clouds of healing carry away what is spent so that new life may begin in me and in all that is. Blessed be The Holy One who is apart and yet inside us all.

Lent 4: Chaos into Order

Collect
Loving and forgiving God,
we bring you our fears and doubts. Help us to see these truths that you have placed before us: change is required for some kinds of institutional healing; this holy earth holds everything necessary for abundant living; compassion, generosity, hospitality, forgiveness all have the power to create safety and peace for all. As we meditate on your word and on the way of life to which Jesus leads us, may we find renewed purpose, and grace in living. Amen.

Prayer over the Gifts
Gracious God,
you have provided for us in abundance and you cradle all the earth in your loving embrace. Receive our work, and our faith, as a holy offering of appreciation for your grace and healing. Amen.

Prayer after Communion
Holy Maker,
who weaves chaos into order, who forms new life from that which is spent, we give you thanks. As we consider your handiwork, may our humility stir us in service to each other and to a renewed way of life. May we trust our vision when it is centred on the loving Way of Christ. Amen.

Lent 3: By Every Well

Collect
Holy and loving God,
to you we bring our doubt and fear. We hesitate because we forget that you travel in our midst. Your spirit opens doors of possibility. Your Beloved teaches us courage in the face of adversity. In all things, we praise the sustaining hope that you have provided for us through your Word in story and in the person of Jesus, our Anointed One. In his name we pray. Amen.

Prayer over the Gifts
Gracious God,
we offer you these gifts that you provide for us to share. Bless them and bless the work that we do in your name so that you will know us in every wilderness and by every well of insight. May we be safe haven and a community where all may find a place to belong. Amen.

Prayer after Communion
Holy One,
we give you thanks that you have called us into the household of faith. May we ensure that the door is open for all, and that there is always another place at the table. In humble gratitude and trust in you, we travel into the world in the community of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Lent 2: The Journey

Collect
Holy One,
you call us to journey beyond our own imaginations. You draw us beyond the limits of time and experience. You ask us to stretch our dreams so that the Spirit can show us new paths and possibilities. May we follow faithfully all our days. Amen.

Prayer over the Gifts
Gracious God,
we bring you these gifts from your holy earth, and the wealth that is ours to share. Bless us with vision and holy dreaming as you enfold us in your dream of peace and justice for all. Amen.

Prayer after Communion
God of abundance,
who wills goodness for all creation. May these holy acts and words inspire us to live with the compassion and clarity of Jesus, who showed us how to be human. Amen.