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Sunday Reflections, March 21, 2016: Palm Sunday Potluck

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Palm Sunday Slider

Last night was such a joyful shift in tone from our past few weeks focusing on lament. It was such a joy to have the presence of families and children among us as we gathered in the Chapel to celebrate the beginning of Holy Week, Palm Sunday.

Our invitation to worship was so compelling to me:

“This Sunday we join with churches around the world in commemorating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as the start of Holy Week, by enacting a procession of palm branches. This procession invites you to participate in the joyful celebration of the Messiah’s arrival, while simultaneously remembering that the crucifixion of Jesus is not far away.”

Taking part in a Palm Sunday procession has been a relatively new practice for me as I’ve been wading deeper into liturgical waters over the past few years. The little kid in me loves receiving a Palm branch and waving it throughout our worship and cries of Hosanna! Hosanna! Come and save us!

Here is the liturgy from the evening if you want to follow along –

Palm Sunday All Family Liturgy

As little feet (and big feet) filled up the chapel with palms and thanksgiving, we sang Hosanna and read the story of Palm Sunday from the Gospel of Luke. Our declaration of response was, “Blessed are they who come in the name of the Lord,” followed by cries of Hosanna (and much palm branch waving!)

Curtis Miller then led us in a family message on waiting, reflecting on how hard it is to wait for something in our day to day lives, and how Jerusalem had been longing and waiting for their King to come, which was why the cries of “Hosanna, Come save us!” were so passionate as Christ rode into Jerusalem on a donkey – he was not the King they expected, but he was the King they knew they needed and had been waiting for.

After the message, we all gathered at the doors of the chapel, palm branches in hand, and began a procession of singing, palm waving and worship through the lobby of the Chapel, and downstairs into the beautifully set up space in which we were to have our potluck feast. After exploding into the basement and taking our seats around round tables together, we all took part in a confession and an assurance, before breaking bread and pouring juice to partake in communion around the tables in the room. It was so beautiful to see round tables praying and taking part in communion together in this communal and intimate way.

After singing the doxology in response, we finally blessed the meal we were about to receive and released the room to feast in the fabulous potluck provided by our community (and masterfully orchestrated by Rhianna & Lori, and a rockstar team of others.) And guys, you absolutely know how to throw a feast! Balsamic glazed garlic chicken, sloppy joes, homemade fudge and chocolate dipped strawberries (!) it was a wonderful time of being in community with all ages around the table, and I was so blessed to see our little tribe knot closer together.

I hope you all have a meaningful Holy Week walking in the footsteps of our Savior as we remember His journey to the cross and resurrection for our salvation.

Check back on the blog for some Holy week service recommendations later this week!

Blessings,

Jenna Perrine & The Practice Tribe

 

Communion Table

What do you make of Truth? – Good Friday Reflection & Resources

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Welcome tribe! I asked our resident theologian John Perrine to share a reflection on Good Friday. John explores the weight of Good Friday and invites us to ponder Pilate’s often forgotten question, “What is truth?”


 

 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

Today is the day that the world stopped, where things went bad before they could become good. The skies darkened, the veil was torn, his body was pierced, the divide between heaven and earth collided in the death of the king who was the Son of God, who was in fact God himself, come to offer up himself, in forgiveness, mercy and love for even us who knew not what we did as we scorned and mocked him. This is that dark and mysterious day that we call good, and that we both mourn and celebrate as our Lord Jesus, the savior of the world, was put into the ground.

A few mere hours before the great euchatastrophe of the world was to take place, the man who represented the kingdom of the world had an exchange with the man who represented the kingdom of heaven concerning the question we long to answer; “What is truth?” Now in order to understand the significance of this exchange, let’s talk for a moment about kings and kingdoms. In the days of Jesus, the great powers ruled the world; Rome and Caesar, the senate and the coin, the Pilate’s and the priests. We really aren’t much different in this day and age. Be it Washington or Hollywood, the corporate office or the political party, the latest diet or the newest phone, the powers that be have a way of sticking around, consuming and controlling the swells and tides of our lives. And the powers that be, both today and in Pilate’s time leave us wondering, along with Pilate, “What is truth?”

So when Pilate enters the room, he brings with him all of those powers and politics to confront a small, seemingly insignificant man, a mere countryside teacher who has been causing the slightest of stirs. His first question wants to know if this Jesus is in fact a threat, a challenge to his rulers by claiming to be a “king of the Jews”.

Of course, as most learned who asked a question of Jesus, he received a question in reply, “Where did you learn this? Who told you who I was?”

Pilate waves this away, “Don’t expect me to understand you particular Jews, you must have done something wrong or you wouldn’t be here.”

Jesus’ answer in reply is both revealing and deeply incriminating. His kingdom doesn’t come from this world. In the book of John, the “world” is associated with evil and rebellion against God. The kingdom of Jesus however does not originate in this world, it has a different quality, a different source. In fact, Jesus points out his kingdom has been one of truth, a truth which he has brought, a truth which his followers have heard.

Pilate, of course, can only see things from a this-worldly perspective. As far as he knows, the only place you get truth is out of the sheath of a sword (or, as we would say, out of the barrel of a gun). Political ‘truth’ can so often be my truth against your truth, my sword against your sword, with those two meaning much the same thing. And ultimately, for a Roman governor, my truth against your truth, my power against your weakness, my cross to hang your naked body on. Ah, but that’s the truth. The truth that belongs with Passover. The truth that says one man dies and the others go free. Barabbas, the brigand, perhaps himself either a would-be king or a supporter of someone else’s failed messianic movement, faces the gallows as well. Somehow, through the cynicism, the casual local custom, the misunderstandings, the distortions, the plots and schemes and betrayals and denials, the Truth stands there in person, taking the death that would otherwise have fallen on the brigand.

Pilate didn’t see it at the time, the irony that his kingdom left him still unable to discern truth when it stood before him. But John wants us to see it today, in the midst of the clamoring powers of day that demand our attention and offer us no reply. This is what the cross will mean. This is what truth is and does. Truth is what Jesus is; and Jesus is dying for Barabbas, and for Israel, and for the world.

And for you and me.

Grace and Peace to you on this Good Friday,

John and the Practice team

 

Recommended Resources

Don’t forget to check out our reflections and introduction to the Stations of the Cross this Good Friday here on the blog. Here are a few other resources for you to pour through and enjoy!

Stations of the Cross

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What is this practice? 

The Stations of the Cross, are typically 14 stations that prayerfully mark the path of the various scenes and sites of Jesus on Good Friday. Many Churches celebrate by setting up physical crosses in different locations and walking from one cross to another to mark the journey of Christ, whilst reading key biblical texts and prayers.

Where did it come from? 

You might be interested to know that back in AD 313 emperor Constantine made Christianity legal, causing many Christians to flock back to the Holy Land to visit the historic sites and homeland of Jesus – in particular to find solidarity with Christ by walking the journey of Christ through Holy Week.

Over the years, this practice became more and more prominent in the Church, with pilgrims desiring to stop prayerfully at all the sites associated with Good Friday. The practice of visiting the historic sites in the Holy Land became restricted around the twelfth century, when the land fell under Muslim rule. Saint Francis and followers then encouraged believers to walk through the same journey by creating replicas of the stations of the cross with your own church. This is the way in which many churches practice this today.

How can you practice?

Whether or not you are able to attend a stations of the cross service today, it is still helpful and meaningful to walk the path of Christ wherever you happen to be today. Below we have provided the 14 different stations along with key passages from scripture to help you trace the journey of Christ to His crucifixion.

This is a powerful practice that allows us to deeply contemplate the great mystery of Jesus’ sacrifice of himself for us. By moving through these texts we invite you to embrace the gift of Christ’s sacrifice in both your mind and heart. By walking from location to location to read, you may involve your body in the worship as well.

Good Friday is a sober, sorrowful day, but I am also overcome by the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice in a way that brings me to my knees in both grief and awe.

May you be moved and ministered to by the footsteps of Christ,

Jenna and The Practice Team

 

The Stations Of The Cross

Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Matthew 26:36-41

Jesus, Betrayed by Judas, Is Arrested

And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. And they laid hands on him and seized him.

Mark 14:43-46

Jesus Is Condemned by the Sanhedrin

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”

Luke 22:66-71

Jesus Is Denied by Peter

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Matthew 26:69-75

Jesus Is Judged by Pilate

And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Mark 15:1-5, 15

Jesus Is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns

Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands.

John 19: 1-3

Jesus Bears the Cross

When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.”

They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.

John 19: 6, 15-17

Jesus Is Helped by Simon the Cyrenian to Carry the Cross

And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.

Mark 15:21

Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem

And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Luke 23:27-31

Jesus Is Crucified

 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” 

Luke 23:33-34

Jesus Promises His Kingdom to the Good Thief

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Luke 23:39-43

Jesus Speaks to His Mother and the Disciple

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

John 19:25-27

Jesus Dies on the Cross

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

Luke 23:44-46

Jesus Is Placed in the Tomb

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.

Matthew 27:57-60

Holy Week Resources

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We’re continuing to share resources throughout the beautiful journey of Holy Week. Enjoy and explore today’s recommended article, sermon and visual liturgy to aid you in your worship this Holy Week.

I was speaking with a friend today who encouraged me to make this extraordinary week of preparation for Easter extraordinary in my own life through my worship and practices. How amazing to realize just how extraordinary and momentous this week has always been in the life of the church – and what a privilege to celebrate it freely and joyfully! However you feel led this Holy week, may you find ways to make this extraordinary week extraordinary in your life.

Grace and Peace to you!

Jenna and The Practice Team

 

 

Recommended Resources

The King We Needed, But Never Wanted  by Marshall Segal on Desiring God

Check out this challenging article that explores the call to Calvary – to follow Jesus so that we may die, and rise again!

“To truly live, we must surrender to the King we really needed, not the one we might have imagined for ourselves.” – Marshall Segal

The Crucifixion by Tim Keller

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus howled this agonized cry ast his execution. How could any good come from such a seemingly horrible end? Check out this sermon in which Tim Keller ponders the depths of what is surely most horrible, yet most wonderful question ever asked.

Leaving Ourselves at the Altar by The Work of The People

Over the past months we’ve recommended a variety of visual liturgies created by our talented friends over at TWOTP – check out this beautiful visual liturgy of “An Easter Benediction” by Kelly Ann Hall