Sunday is Palm/Passion Sunday. On Sunday we begin a journey with Jesus through his last days before his crucifixion, death, and resurrection.
Palm Sunday has always been a time for the triumphal entry of Christ. We have the children carry palm branches down the aisle and we sing loud hosannas. But in recent years the Church has also reemphasized the passion, that is death of Christ on the cross. It is too easy to jump from the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday to the triumph of the resurrection and never talk about the scandal of the cross. It is too easy to forget to talk about the suffering servant when we are singing songs of joy and triumph. So this Sunday we will talk about Christ’s death and what that means for our faith.
On Maundy Thursday many churches around the world will celebrate the institution of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion. First UMC in Cedar Falls will have a reenactment of the last supper with the disciples and we will also share in the sacrament together. In the days between Palm/Passion Sunday and Maundy Thursday Jesus has been meeting the challenge of the religious and political leaders of his day. He has continued to talk about his radical gospel of love and the grace he offers. When he comes to Thursday it is time to again try to get the twelve to understand that he intends to give his life for them.
On Good Friday we will celebrate Christ’s sacrifice. Ten churches here in Cedar Falls, including First UMC, St. Timothy’s UMC, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, and seven other congregations will participate in a procession of the cross from Overman Park through downtown Cedar Falls to the foot of the steps at St. Patrick’s Church. We will read portions of the stations of the cross and remember Christ’s love and sacrifice for us and for the whole world.
There are many theories about the atonement of Christ, that saving act which happens for us on the cross. Different Christians describe Christ’s work on the cross with different metaphors from scripture. But what we all agree on is that Jesus Christ died to give us knew life and to offer us the saving gospel. It is hard to imagine such a sacrifice, it is hard to comprehend what Christ gave up for us, it is hard to imagine such a cruel death. But what we can know and do know is that the scriptures tell us that we can love God because he first loved us. When are given God’s grace so that we can respond to him. We are given God’s grace when we respond to him. And we experience God’s grace each and every day as he sanctifies us and leads us to grow in grace each day.
If we really look at the cross and really look seriously at the one who would call us to be servants to all for the sake of the gospel then when we reach Easter Sunday and the tomb is found empty we can with even greater joy should and sing “Jesus Christ is Risen Today!” with joy, with amazement, with wonder that the one who is our savior became the greatest by being the servant all.
Lord Christ let us travel with you this week in your way and on your path that we might see the glory of your resurrection this week with new eyes, with new hearts, and with greater joy!