April 17, 2011
The Readings for the Day
found at http://www.io.com/~kellywp/YearA_RCL/HolyWk/APalmSun_RCL.html
During the Palm Sunday Procession
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
(For the entire psalm, click on http://bible.oremus.org/ and search Psalm 118.)
During the Eucharist service
Matthew 26:14- 27:66 or Matthew 27-11-54
by Marjorie George
It was the Passover time, and Jerusalem and the whole surrounding area was crowded with pilgrims. Some of the crowd, certainly not including the Roman government nor the Jewish hierarchy, met Jesus on the road as He entered the city on a donkey colt. They recognized Him as the King, the Messiah, even if they were not sure what that meant. They waved palm branches and spread their cloaks on the road so that the king might be properly welcomed. They shouted “Hosanna! – blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” This day had been foretold by the prophets, and now it was here. God’s reign on earth had finally arrived, and all would live happily ever after.
And then things began to fall apart. We can conjecture that few of those in that procession of praise had any inkling of what lay ahead. And we can imagine that as the week unraveled into abject horror, many threw up their arms and gave up the losing cause. They quit too soon.
Psalm 118, which is one of the choices for use on Palm Sunday, was also written on the occasion of God’s evidenced triumph. The psalm was likely composed for the dedication of the restored walls and gates of Jerusalem around 445 B.C. The building of the second temple in Jerusalem had been completed in about 515 B.C., after the Jews returned from their Babylonian exile. Nearly 75 years later, Nehemiah directed the work of rebuilding the walls and restoring the gates. The rebuilding project took a mere 52 days, and this nearly-miraculous feat was attributed to the intervention of God. Psalm 118 became a public-worship psalm as the king, speaking for the people, gave thanks and acknowledged the saving power of God.
Note that Psalm 118 does not dwell on all the misery the Hebrews have suffered. For the psalmist never quits too soon. We have seen during our Lenten journey that no matter the current reality, the psalmist almost always continues to trust in the providence of Almighty God. The psalmist is sure that eventually God will reign over the entire world and in each of our individual lives. Psalm 118 is one of those occasions when this confidence is justified, when things turn out right after all.
Palm Sunday lifts us to a place of hope and expectation. The stout and courageous are able to maintain that posture even when the days of Holy Week, or the days of our lives, look bleak. Remember that Easter wins. Don’t quit too soon.
Questions for reflection:
1. What are the gates through which God might be calling you to enter just now? What do you expect to find if you take that step?
2. Psalm 118 begins and ends with thanksgiving (vss 1, 29). What can you be thankful for this day?
3. The psalm recognizes that God’s love endures forever (vss 2-4, 29). Where in your life have you found this to be true?
4. Psalm 118 recounts (vss 5-14) several instances of triumph. Think of the triumphs that God has been gracious enough to allow you to see.
Take-with thought for the day: Don’t quit too soon.