Rev. Peggy  McDonagh
April 14, 2019
Rev. Peggy McDonagh
Minister of Congregational Operations and Worship

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Luke 22

A Summary of Palm/Passion Sunday Service by Brenda Wallace, congregant.

Seated in the round, with the Chamber Choir in one of the quadrants, our combined voices joined in the singing of "Hosanna, Loud Hosanna." (VU #123) with the organ behind us. Faith Chat, which involved a host of young and old, dressed in the homespun of Jesus' day and carrying palm branches, reviewed Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem, riding a donkey and being greeted like a king. It was hoped that Jesus would be able to break the stranglehold of the Romans on the Hebrew people. Jesus' courage, speaking truth to power, carried the day but the consequences of Jesus' bravery is what brought us to church today.

The usual format of our worship service, with a reading followed by a Reflection, experienced a dramatic shift. Adapting Ann Weems'  Kneeling in Jerusalem, we were invited into a very meaningful service. Following the lighting of the Lenten candles and the Christ Candle as well as hearing a Palm Sunday Antiphon by the Chamber Choir, we shared in a responsive prayer that made us all participants in Jesus' Walk. "God, give us courage to hear Jesus' story." Rev. Peggy then read this poem "Hold on to the Hosannas!" written by Rev. E. Crumlish of Castlehill Church in Scotland. 

Let us stay with the Hosannas for a while. Let us let them keep on ringing in our ears, Hosanna!

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord instead of rushing on to hear the cries that come later in the week.

Let us stay with the Hosannas for those Hosannas were not simply the innocent cries of palm branch waving children.

Those hosannas were the war cries of adults, tired of the oppression of occupying forces

Those hosannas were the hopeful cries of a nation seeking liberation.

Those hosannas that we have sanitized over the years rang out in clear insurrection, sealing the fate of one who rode on a donkey.

Let our Hosannas ring in our ears and come from our mouths as a call to action ... a call to justice ... a call to love. 

Our offering was asked to be "tangible evidence of our commitment to risk following the way of Jesus in the processions of our lives - a public display of our "Hosannas" brought to life." 

From here we moved onto the Journey of the Cross with readings, reflections and hymns, beginning with Setting the Scene and scripture quotes from Luke 19-22.

Hurting, they came to him. Healed, they followed him. Grateful, they gave to him what they had and what they were.

Those who were ostracized, those who were healed, those who were grateful, these are the one that followed Jesus.                    How could they not? 

They were drawn to him, his compassion, his acceptance, his unwavering love.

After the procession Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things, saying, "It is written: 'My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers." 

And then we sang, words written by Rev. Peggy to a familiar tune about the carpenter, in anger, seeking justice - "though systems of oppression may keep God's people down, our voice of love and justice set them on sacred ground." Reflecting, she said that Jesus overturned the tables of tradition, teaching new interpretations of Hebrew law and practices. He had shifted the scales of what was truly important: people, not profit; healing, not rule-keeping; connecting, not appearances. Then came the time for him to share his last meal with his beloved followers. 

Another reading, this time The Passover from Luke 22 and a responsive reading created by Ann Weems, Kneeling in Jerusalem entitled Holy Communion. "Eat, Drink, Remember who I am." was followed by the singing of "Christ, Let Us Come with You."

The Accusation began with the reading of Luke 22:31 during which Peter and the disciples promised to stand with Jesus. "I will not deny you." And so, said all the disciples. We moved into shared prayer in which we asked "Grant me the wisdom to understand the truth of your call never to deny the humanity of all people, including ourselves." And onto the Gethsemane scene.

With the reading, an adaptation from Luke 22: 39-44, we acknowledged that prayer was "a powerful consistency in Jesus' life." We were asked to reflect upon our source of strength and courage when we were faced with life's difficult challenges." 

Following our musical response to Jesus' time in the garden, we moved on the Betrayal and an adaptation of Luke 22: 47-48. We considered the kiss and its meaning and to then asked ourselves, in situations when we are struggling with conflicting relationships, is there a symbol that says, "We are both involved in this, but I still value you." Jesus called the betrayer, friend. Did that kiss suggest that Jesus and the betrayer were both caught up in this event with a destiny to play out, but that they still loved each other? We sang, "Love Knocks and Waits."MV #94 vs. 1 and 4

Then came Peter's Denial. The scripture adaptation was from Luke 22: 55-60. "Peter wept bitterly" after three times denying that Jesus was his companion. A poem, entitled The Courtyard Scene by Ann Weems was read responsively and we joined Peter with "ears to hear and the heart to weep." We sang, "O God, Why are you Silent?" MV #94 vs 3.

Pilate's Role, a monologue, offered the possible mindset of Pilate, seeing Jesus as a disruption and a source of rebellion. The Trial offered this reflection:

So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying "I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves." Then the people demanded that Jesus should be crucified and their voices prevailed. Pilate released Barabbas for them and, after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. 

Singing together from MV#94 vs. 2,3 "Love Knocks and Waits", we listened to the Chamber Choir singing All in the April Evening during which time the cross was brought forward and the crown of thorns was placed on the cross. We were commissioned to take a bit of Jesus' pain and tears into our lives and let it reshape us in the way of compassion and love. In a responsive prayer we considered our aboriginal brothers and sisters, political prisoners, refugees, those seeking asylum, those suffering from mental illness and addictions, broken relationships and hopelessness, children and youth and, finally, ourselves and prayed, "Keep walking. Keep walking. In the Spirit of Christ, keep walking." 

Rev. Peggy closed with a piece written by Roddy Hamilton, posted on entitled Let the Stones Remain Silent that brought us back to the loud "hosannas" with which we began the service - hosannas we realize are broken, betrayed, tortured, twisted, scourged and crucified but that: "Still we trust in love's choice. May we remain here to whisper our hosannas throughout this week. In every moment may we remain with you, O Jesus, still believing, still following, still your companions and let the stones remain silent."