A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Friday, February 27, 2009

Holy Week Reflections - Palm Sunday

My weekly Thursday morning bible study (10 A.M. in church parlor) is focusing on the days of Holy Week for our Lenten study this year. This week, our focus was on Passion/Palm Sunday.

We're using the book, "Christians at the Cross" by Anglican Bishop and New Testament bible scholar, N.T. Wright. The book consists of a series of sermons that Bishop Wright preached at Church of the Ascension, located in Easington Colliery, north east England, overlooking the North Sea. The reason he preached a a series of sermons for Holy Week in this particular location in 2007 is due to the tremendous economic hardships facing this former coal mining community which shut down in 1993. This is also a community which continues to carry the heavy grief of a terrible mine explosion which happened in that community in 1951 (81 miners and 2 rescue workers died.)

The events of Holy Week which led Jesus to the cross is a way to help whole communities facing economic and societal problems like Easington Colliery to work through immeasurable pain and grief and point us forward to a new beginning and a new way of living through the hope and promise of Jesus' resurrection.

During this Lenten focus, members of my bible study will be naming the pain and struggles of our community and surrounding area by printing these on pieces of paper which will then be brought to the cross at our Good Friday service for God to bring about healing and a new way of moving into the future with hope.

For our Palm Sunday focus this week, in his sermon, Bishop Wright compared the events of Holy Week to singing parts. Here is how he breaks down the musical parts and ties them into Holy Week:
  • The bass part - This is the story line of the Old Testament which Jesus carried with him throughout his ministry and particularly during the events of Holy Week. The bass part which provides a foundation for a song is the OT story of how God created the world, called it good, and because sin entered the world, God has been on a rescue mission by forming a covenant with Abraham and eventually with the people of Israel to put the world back to where it was always meant to be.

  • The tenor part - This is being aware of the story line of the brokenness of our present world and community.

  • The alto part - This is being aware of our own personal story line of brokenness, disappointment, heartache, and grief.

Next week, we will focus on Monday of Holy Week.

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