Meditations on Palm Sunday

The word endures. The Word endures. We who stand among the Palm Sunday crowds know that the Word will soon be beaten, mocked, and killed. We know, too, that that is not the end of the tale. — Jan Richardson

“Hey sanna, ho sanna, sanna, sanna, hey sanna, ho sanna sanna sanna , ho sanna, hey sanna, Hey, hey JC, JC won’t you smile at me. …” — Webber and RiceJesus Christ Superstar (rock opera)

Songs


Blessing of Palms
This blessing
can be heard coming from a long way off.
This blessing is making its steady way
up the road toward you.
This blessing
blooms in the throats of women,
springs from the hearts of men,
tumbles out of the mouths of children.
This blessing
is stitched into the seams
of the cloaks that line the road,
etched into the branches
that trace the path,
echoes in the breathing
of the willing colt,
the click of the donkey’s hoof
against the stones.
Something is rising beneath this blessing.
Something will try to drown it out.
But this blessing
cannot be turned back, cannot be made to still its voice,
cannot cease to sing its praise
of the One who comes along the way it makes.
—Jan Richardson

Hosanna: Help Us!

The Hebrew word Halleluia means “praise the Lord;” Hosanna means “save us!” or “save!” The Palm Sunday crowd falsely assumed that Jesus would bring political liberation.— Steve Vredenburgh

We think of “Hosanna” as a shout of praise, but the basic meaning of this Hebrew word is “Help!” It is an SOS cry. That appears to be the way the first Palm Sunday crowd used it. Having heard of Jesus’ ability to feed an army with a school boy’s lunch and His recent accomplishment of bringing a dead Lazarus back to life, they were convinced He was a candidate for the monarchy. “Jesus, Help! Expel our hated Roman rulers. You be our King!” How disappointed they were when Jesus, after riding into the capitol city on the wave of the crowd’s enthusiasm, merely looked around and walked back out. — Merwin VanDoornik

But what I didn’t know until this week is what the word “hosanna” actually means.  All these years, I thought it meant some church-y version of “We adore you!” or “You rock!” or “Go, king!”  It doesn’t.  In Hebrew, it means something less adulatory and more desperate.  Less generous and more demanding.  It means, “Save now!”  — Debie Thomas

“Hosanna” 
does come from an old Hebrew phrase, but one that was less praise and more desperate plea. “Save now!” It was a phrase stripped of all pretense of politeness. “Help!” Its insistent cry was one reserved for royalty or divinity. “Deliver us! Don’t wait!” The people are either calling Jesus “king” or “God” or both. … My own mind is drawn today to Anne Lamott’s book, which you have heard us reference a few times: Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. In it, Lamott says that all prayers boil down to these three simple words: help, thanks, wow. And more often than not, these concepts overlap and run together. … I think a truly holy Hosanna can hold these three words together, this help, thanks, and wow. Hosanna cries for deliverance. It calls out in gratitude. And it gives voice to holy awe. — Marthame Sanders

By Which Gate? 

Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan argue that two processions entered Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday two thousand years ago; Jesus’s was not the only Triumphal Entry.
    Every year during Passover — the Jewish festival that swelled Jerusalem’s population from its usual 50,000 to at least 200,000 — the Roman governor of Judea would ride up to Jerusalem from his coastal residence in the west.  He would come in all of his imperial majesty to remind the Jewish pilgrims that Rome demanded their complete loyalty, obedience, and submission.  The Jewish people could commemorate their ancient victory against Egypt and slavery if they wanted to.  But if they tried any real time resistance, they would be obliterated without a second thought. 
      As Pilate clanged and crashed his imperial way into Jerusalem from the west, Jesus approached from the east, looking (by contrast) ragtag and absurd.  Unlike the Roman emperor and his legions, who ruled by force, coercion, and terror, Jesus came defenseless and weaponless into his kingship.  Riding on a donkey, he all but cried aloud the bottom-line truth that his rule would have nothing to recommend it but love, humility, long-suffering, and sacrifice.  — Debie Thomas

The Rest of the Week

It seems reasonable to me that people choose to go from the Big Parade to the Empty Tomb and skip the stuff that makes them uncomfortable: stuff like how Jesus ate his last meal with the people he loved most, all of whom (perhaps like me) would betray abandon or deny him, that these friends (perhaps like me) couldn’t even stay awake while he prayed in the garden, that the crowd (perhaps like me) would strike and taunt him for not living up to their expectations, that the people would (perhaps like me) shout crucify him! And twist him a crown of thorns, that passersby would (perhaps like me) shout “for God’s sake, save yourself”.  Because we would save ourselves.  And the fact that Jesus got himself killed in a totally preventable way never once showing enough self-respect to fight back or get himself off that damned cross…well maybe he had it coming. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

Five hundred years after that  … this story continues, the story of God’s decision to not hold back and watch to see what we might do on our own but instead to get involved, to take matters into the divine hands, to join God’s own self to us fully and completely so that we might live and die – and live again! – in hope and courage. That’s the story we tell, the story of this week’s dramatic reading, the story of God’s passionate and relentless quest to redeem each and all of us in love.  — David Lose

This Week: Mar 25-Apr 1 — Holy Week Events & Other Activities

SUN, MAR 25: Palm Sunday

  • INTERFAITH GATHERING
    8am • Madeline’s Deli, Jackson, NH
    Reflection & prayer using literature, sacred texts, personal sharing.
  • ADULT CHOIR PRACTICE
    9am • Jackson Community Church
  • PALM PROCESSION
    9:45am • Jackson Community Church
  • WORSHIP: Palm Sunday
    10:30am • Jackson Community Church
  • Community Event: Bliss Yoga
    3pm • Be Well Studios New Hampshire, 3358 White Mountain Hwy Unit 3, North Conway, NH
    Yoga with
    Anjali Rose, $20/pp

MON, MAR 26

  • REIKI WORKSHOP (closed class, April class has openings: contact Rev Gail if interested)
    6pm • Classroom/Betty Whitney Library, Second Floor of JCC

TUE, MAR 27

  • Community Event:
    HOMELESSNESS COALITION in Tamworth, NH

    10am-Noon • TriCounty Cap, Sununu Room, Tamworth, NH
    Overview of issues and initiatives to address homelessness and housing needs in Carroll County/Mt Washington Valley. Rev Gail will attend this meeting along with other valley clergy, and representatives of local agencies and nonprofits, focusing on this issue. Interested individuals are welcome to attend to learn more.

WED, MAR 28

  • PASTOR’s DROP-IN 
    7-9am • JTown Deli.
    Come for caffeine, cuisine, and conversation.
  • TUNE UP (Fitness) with LAURIE McALEER
    9am • Parish Hall, Jackson Community Church.
    Free. Join members of the women’s group and fitness trainer Laurie McAleer for a gentle, introductory fitness class for beginners. Wear comfortably clothing, sensible shoes, and bring a bottle of water. Bring a ski pole. Men and women both welcome to come try this class. Laurie will lead a fitness class that can be customized to each person’s abilities, and help improve overall wellbeing, as well as focusing on body areas that may need additional support and care.
  • WOMEN’S GROUP
    10am-Noon • Parish Hall
    Come for social time, refreshments, and to prepare eggs for Easter Egg hunt on April 1

THURS, MAR 29

  • INTRODUCTORY YOGA with Anjali Rose
    9am • Parish Hall, Jackson Community Church
    Men and women invited to join instructor Anjali Rose for a gentle, introductory yoga class. Wear stretchy fitness clothing, bring a matt and a cushion/blanket if you have them. $10/class for 6 weeks; payable at beginning of session.  Scholarships available. This session runs through April 19.
  • YOGA & MEDITATION with Charlotte Doucette
    3:30pm • Parish Hall. $10/pp fee. (Scholarships available)
  • MAUNDY THURSDAY OBSERVANCES: Bread & Blessings
    5pm • Parish Hall of Jackson Community Church.
    Gather with members and friends for dinner and worship. This evening is derived from events surrounding the ‘Last Supper’ and will include a meditation on bread and blessings.
  • AA
    6-7pm • Church Library

THURS, Mar 29 – FRI, MAR 30: HOLY FRIDAY VIGIL

  • VIGIL
    6pm Thursday until 1pm Friday • Shifts held at home, although church is open 24/7 and people are welcome to hold vigil at the church. Individuals and families can sign up in one-hour shifts from 6pm Thursday until 3pm Friday, to pray, meditate and stay awake during the hours of Christ’s arrest, trial and crucifixion. This vigil will be held ‘by trust’ in people’s homes, or at church if they so choose, so that each person who takes a one-hour shift to keep vigil may do so in their own environs. Sign up at church on Palm Sunday.

FRI, MAR 30: HOLY FRIDAY

  • WAY of the CROSS
    1pm • Jackson Community Church
    Come for journey through ‘stations of the cross.’ Walk the stations, or meditate with Stations coloring pages
  • HOLY FRIDAY SERVICE
    6:30pm •  Bartlett Congregational Church.
    Ecumenical worship services organized by Clergy of the Eastern Slope and hosted at Bartlett Congregational Church.

SAT, MAR 30: HOLY SATURDAY

  • Community Event:
    HEALING SERVICE

    1pm • Christ Episcopal Church, North Conway, NH

SUN, APR 1: EASTER

  • SUNRISE SERVICE
    6:30am • Gazebo by Jackson’s Historical Society. Gather outside for worship & song. Return to Jackson Community Church for hot beverages and breakfast.
  • EASTER SERVICE
    10:30am •  Jackson Community Church.
    Easter worship with “flowering of the cross.”
  • EGG HUNT
    Follows worship service  •  Jackson Community Church. Hunt for eggs on grounds of church. Hunt will take place outdoors if weather permits, inside if weather is inclement.
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