Friday, March 26th Isaiah 50:10-11

Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the voice of his servant, who walks in darkness and has no light, yet trusts in the name of the LORD and relies upon his God? But all of you are kindlers of fire, lighters of firebrands. Walk in the flame of your fire, and among the brands that you have kindled! This is what you shall have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment. Isaiah 50:10-11

I’m mindful today, the Friday before Palm Sunday – Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and our entrance into Holy Week – of two things I always think about during this time of year.

First, I’m mindful of how much it bugs me that Palm Sunday isn’t simply Palm Sunday anymore and hasn’t been for some time. Somewhere along the way, the powers that be determined that too many Christians were treating Holy Week like spring break. They weren’t in church on Thursday night to remember the last night Jesus spent with his friends. They weren’t in church on Friday to remember the death of Jesus on the cross. Only the most hardcore liturgical types still held Easter vigils on Saturday. And then everyone showed up in their new spring wardrobe for pancakes, Easter eggs, and…oh yeah…the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

So they decided to reinvent Palm Sunday, renamed it “Passion Sunday” (because everyone KNOWS that “passion” means “suffering” – like “compassion” means “to suffer with” – and then made sure that everyone in worship the week before Easter would hear the whole story so that maybe, by next week, they wouldn’t celebrate the resurrection out of context.

To some degree, (referring back to yesterday’s devotion), this calls into question the degree to which we “set our face” toward much of anything as Christians.

Saving faith is supernatural, not superficial. If we skip the dark side of the Jesus story, perhaps we also shield the dark sides of our lives from the love of Jesus. We do our own thing to our own peril.

And then, secondly, I remember a story that I believe William Willimon shared in one of his books – the story of how God came out of hiding. In short, one day God wrote “I EXIST” or something like that in the sky. The words could be seen everywhere in the world. It spurred a religious revival unlike any in history. It changed lives and it changed the world. For a few weeks.

Eventually, everyone grew used to the words written in the sky and they all went back to business as usual.

Holy Week is one of the few times when the story of the Christian faith comes out of hiding. Jesus himself, no longer traveling about like an itinerant prophet, showed up on the steps of the temple in Jerusalem. He went public and then he showed us all how much that would cost.

Obviously there is more to living the Christian faith than showing up in worship and there is no red attendance book in the sky marking us “present” or “absent” for Good Friday worship…on the other hand, isn’t it better that we’re there?

“Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the voice of his servant, who walks in darkness and has no light, yet trusts in the name of the LORD and relies upon his God?”

Let us pray: Bless us, Lord God, as we begin our walk into Holy Week. Rekindle in us the flame of your passion, of your passionate love for people. May we join the crowds who welcome, sit with the disciples as you gave them bread and wine, see ourselves in the crowds who call for your death, join the Roman soldier who saw your glory on the cross. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

2 Responses to “Friday, March 26th Isaiah 50:10-11”

  1. Peggy Says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with you. Our pastor is on sabbatical until the middle of April. The attendance at our mid-week lenten services has been deplorable. I imagine our attendance at the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services won’t be much better. It’s sad.

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