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

Monday, April 15, 2019

Sunday Pastoral Prayer (April 14/Palm Sunday) Athens First UMC

[The children led the way in the procession for our opening hymn and then offered this hymn of praise for the congregation during our Palm Sunday worship. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week that will lead us to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and then to the empty tomb on Easter Sunday. For the Palm Sunday sermon, click here.]

O God, palm branches are waving, children are singing, choirs are rehearsing, extra worship bulletins are being printed. We have finally arrived to Holy Week; the week of all weeks on the church calendar, the week that changed the world, the week that showed us what perfect love can do, the week of Easter lilies being delivered, the week of Holy Communion and Tenebrae services, the week that leads us to a cross and an empty tomb.

O God, thank you for these past several weeks of Lent that have been preparing us for this moment. We have learned so much from you along these dusty roads leading to Jerusalem. We are growing in what it means to face temptation, wrestle with doubts, focus on being fruitful, seeking to be forgiving, becoming more generous, and growing in confidence. But now, all of our fears will be on the line this week, as the shouts of hosanna that we are hearing today will quickly turn into shouts of “crucify him.”

And so, we offer to you our fears as we prepare to gather around the Passover meal on Thursday, the cross on Friday, and by the sealed tomb on Saturday. This will be the most difficult stretch of our journey with you, but we will still follow you because deep down we know that these events will once again lead us to the surprising good news of a glorious resurrection. 

It is with this hope that we lift up to you any who feel fearful this day; for the family grieving the loss of a loved one, for the person looking for employment, for those feeling lonely, for the one who is preparing to move to a new community, for people who feel judged and excluded by others, for those with physical or emotional distress, and for anyone who is in need of hearing these incredible words of faith, “Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved.”

Relieve our fears, Lord Jesus even as we pray the words you taught us to pray…

“Our Father, who art in heaven…”

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