BY NICHOLAS BANNON
Setting out to write this article, it became difficult to get past an opening paragraph. Should the focus be “there’s no Easter without Good Friday”, “those who cheered Christ as he entered Jerusalem later shouted ‘crucify him’”, “live like Christ taught us” or some other theme surrounding God’s abundant love? The answer … yes.
As we near the end of Lent and enter into Holy Week, all of these topics matter. It’s important that Jesus didn’t just wash away our sins. He washed them away by being mocked, beaten, stripped and nailed to a cross. As we pray for love in the pews on Sunday and curse those God told us to love on Monday, it’s important to remember that Jesus was cheered on his way into Jerusalem, but would again hear a similar crowd cheering…this time for his death. It is essential to remember that we are sent out. There are people suffering and in need of support. Jesus message of God’s love and redemption is meant to be shared and lived out. As those set free by Christ’s death, we are sent to freely serve others.
Perhaps in no better place than our second reading this Palm Sunday do we find this all-encompassing life of being a follower of Christ. We find that life in the example of Jesus’ himself. We hear from Paul, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5 New Revised Standard Version). Verses 6-11 go on to describe what that mind looks like. We find Jesus as a humble, obedient, servant. God so highly honors these traits that at the mention of Jesus’ name “every knee should bend…and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11 New Revised Standard Version).
It’s not easy to keep this mind. It’s not easy during Lent, it’s not easy during Holy Week and it certainly is not easy the rest of the year. Yet this is what we are called to do. We are to remember that out of love Christ was given to die — he emptied himself and suffered for us. We are to remember that Jesus was both cheered and condemned by the same people — people much like us. We are to remember that Jesus was servant to all. We are to remember that we should strive to live as Jesus did. I pray that as we walk through Holy Week and experience again the agony and joy of death on a cross and an empty tomb we might be convicted to own our failings, renewed to embrace the challenge of servanthood, and emboldened to share the good news of a risen Messiah all year long.
Please join us for worship at Memorial as we journey towards the Easter. Palm Sunday worship at 9:30 a.m. April 9 with brunch served before and after. Maundy Thursday includes holy communion and hand washing 7 p.m. April 13. Good Friday worship 7 p.m. April 14 and Easter morning worship 7, 8:30 and 10 a.m. April 16.
Nicholas Bannon is the Faith Formation Coordinator at Memorial Lutheran Church of Afton