Welcome and Theme (Dennis): The word ‘hosanna’ is often sung with joy and glee on this day. The waving palm branches, makes it feels like a celebration. But the truth is, the word ‘hosanna’ actually means, “save us.” The people along that parade route so many years ago were crying out to Jesus for help, because they knew—this world is not as it should be. There is still too much hurt here. They were crying, “Save us!” As we listen to today’s readings, do we hear the hosannas directed at us? Are we being called to follow Jesus, stepping beyond our egos into a transformed life of service and love? What role can we play in making the world a more loving, just place, and a world with less pain and hurt?
Opening Prayer (Margaret):
Loving God, you fill all things with a fulness and hope that we can never comprehend. Thank you for leading us into a time where more of reality is being unveiled for us all to see.
We pray that you will take away our natural temptation of cynicism, denial, fear and despair. Help us have the courage to awaken a greater truth, greater humility and greater care for one another. Amen (adapted from Richard Rohr)
Opening Song: Jerusalem, My Destiny by Rory Cooney, performed by St. Vincent’s Choir, Solo by Dennis McDonaldhttps://youtu.be/LkHCkz6PFPM
LITURGY OF THE WORD
First Reading (Marjorie)
A reading from Rev. Hank Galganowicz (adapted by Dennis for this liturgy)
The language and tone of Lent address the ego, known in traditional language as our ‘sinful nature.’ According to traditional Christian theology, Jesus died to ‘save’ us from our inherently depraved nature inherited from Adam & Eve, because we can’t do it for ourselves. For the sake of biblical and religious literacy, we need to acknowledge a disclaimer.
The extended gospel read on Palm Sunday, is called the Passion Narrative It is the mythological story of the suffering, or passion, of Jesus. It is half of the core story of Christian faith, the other half being the Resurrection. The two parts of this story are our foundational myth. Like most foundational myths, most of the content is not literally true. The myth and the theology do not come from Jesus himself; they are made up about him after the fact. It doesn’t mean it isn’t true on mythological levels, just not literally. What’s foundational is the myth, not the event.
The cross was not God’s idea. God is love; love does not kill, love does not condemn.
God does not demand the death of his beloved son. God does not require blood as payment for love. That is the ego’s deluded craziness; not God’s idea, but ours.
Jesus did not have to die as part of some cosmic theological plan. He didn’t die ‘for’ us, nor on ‘our behalf,’ to save us from God’s supposed anger or wrath. We didn’t need to be saved from anything, because we didn’t do anything, and God wasn’t angry with us.
Jesus didn’t have to die; it’s more like he chose to. Not that he liked the idea of dying, not that he preferred to. The normal reflex responses in his circumstances are to fight or flee, to save life and limb. He did neither. Instead, he bravely faced his suffering and death – stood in the middle of it – trusting in the love of God to see him through.
The point is not to suffer. God does not want us to suffer more. We are not made holier by feeling sentimentally guilty over Jesus’ death. The point is not to suffer: the point is to love…. which is what he died for. What he did was show us what we can do. That we’re capable of doing what he did …. because… we are like him.
The recurring question is, are we following the Spirit or ego?
Keeping our hearts open doesn’t mean we won’t die, figuratively and literally. It doesn’t mean we won’t hurt. Our egos will die; we will have to surrender them. But, like Jesus, in the midst of Gethsemane and our crosses – who trusted that nothing could separate him from the love of God, and that the loving presence of God enfolded and embraced him – we can follow his example and be taken through our suffering and death to another side. Suffering and dying, at least of our egos, may be a gateway to breaking us open – in order to love
The most important part of the Christian story is not the Cross, but Easter; not death, but new life. But you can’t get to new life without going through the death. You can’t end-run the process. That’s just the way it is. That’s the truth of the foundational myth.
This is the inspirational message from Rev. Hank Galganowicz, and the community affirms it by saying, Amen.
Spirit of the Living God, open up our hearts
Spirit of the Living God, open up our hearts
Suffering, dying, loving, rising
Spirit of the Living God, open up our hearts
Gospel (Jim) A reading from the Gospel writer known as Luke
Jesus proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.
As he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany
at the place called the Mount of Olives,
he sent two of his disciples.
He said, “Go into the village opposite you,
and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered
on which no one has ever sat.
Untie it and bring it here.
And if anyone should ask you,
‘Why are you untying it?’
you will answer,
‘The Master has need of it.’”
So those who had been sent went off
and found everything just as he had told them.
And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them,
“Why are you untying this colt?”
“The Master has need of it.”
So they brought it to Jesus,
threw their cloaks over the colt,
and helped Jesus to mount.
As he rode along,
the people were spreading their cloaks on the road;
and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives,
the whole multitude of his disciples
began to praise God aloud with joy
for all the mighty deeds they had seen.
“Blessed is the One who comes
in the name of our God.
Peace in heaven
and glory in the highest.”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him,
“Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”
He said in reply,
“I tell you, if they keep silent,
the stones will cry out!”
These are the inspired words from Gospel writer known as Luke, and the community affirms them by saying, Amen.
Dennis: In preparing today’s liturgy, I purposely chose to use the entry into Jerusalem and forego the reading of the Passion, since there is much that happens during this week that leads up to the death of Jesus. His riding into Jerusalem from one side of the city, while Pilate arrives from the other direction sets up the image of opposing forces, one that preaches love over war, the other that promotes the love of war and oppression. This is Jesus’ first step toward choosing, as our first reading indicates, to move toward his death. He could easily dwell in the adulation of the crowds, bask in his notoriety, but instead he steps beyond his ego into the transformative space of speaking truth to power a message of love, compassion, and acceptance of all people. He stands in solidarity with those who are oppressed. He opens himself to the love of the Divine which carried him through his death to a new life.
We are called as followers of Jesus to respond to the outcry for salvation. As we watch the pain and suffering, the demoralization of people, the destruction of lives throughout the world and in our own communities, we must decide if we will die to our egos and be transformed by the Divine Love that lives within us. Are we able to, in our own small or large way, touch hearts and offer hope, show compassion, and spread the love that is beyond all love? Like Jesus, let us open our hearts!
Margaret: Jesus came to make a difference. His journey in Jerusalem was not going to be easy. I see making a difference in the lives of others today. One in particular, is about a nun, S.Ligi Payyappily from India who has spent the last twenty years of her life in the Ukraine. She and her community have been taking in students from India, offering them baths, food and bed to sleep in. These students have been stranded in the Ukraine because of coming from India. They travelled to the border of Poland and were turned back, only Ukraine women and children could get across to Poland. After being stranded for 15 hours, the students were rescued by S. Payyappily and another nun. After caring for the students at their convent, the students were driven to the borders of Romania, Hungary and Slovakia and the nuns facilitated their easy passage to these countries. “Since there are many to support Ukrainians, we opted to help foreign students, a lot of them being Indian,” Payyappilly explained. She said once the people cross the border safely including Ukrainians, they consider the mission accomplished and look for other lost ones on their journey out of Ukraine.
Are we able to, in our own small or large way, touch hearts and offer hope, show compassion, and spread the love that is beyond all love? What does “making a difference” say to you? Please share your thoughts by unmuting yourself and afterwards click on the mute key.
Statement of Faith (Sandi)
We believe in the Holy One, a divine mystery
beyond all definition and rational understanding,
the heart of all that has ever existed,
that exists now, or that ever will exist.
We believe in Jesus, messenger of the Divine Word,
bringer of healing, heart of Divine compassion,
bright star in the firmament of the Holy One's
prophets, mystics, and saints.
We believe that We are called to follow Jesus
as a vehicle of divine love,
a source of wisdom and truth,
and an instrument of peace in the world.
We believe in the Spirit of the Holy One,
the life that is our innermost life,
the breath moving in our being,
the depth living in each of us.
We believe that the Divine kin-dom is here and now,
stretched out all around us for those
with eyes to see it, hearts to receive it,
and hands to make it happen.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Ed: As we prepare for this sacred meal, we are aware of our call to serve, and just as Jesus is anointed, so is each of us. We bring to this table our blessings, cares and concerns.
We bring these and all deeply held blessings, cares, and concerns to the table of friendship and peace.
Ed: With open hands let us pray our Eucharistic Prayer together (1)
We gather today mindful of the many times we have professed our readiness to be true disciples of Jesus, to be salt of the earth, and light for the world.
We, recognizing the call of Jesus to love our neighbor and all of creation, join in the everlasting song of praise to the Great Mystery of Light and Love:
Holy, Holy, Holy: Here in This Place by Christopher Grundy
Margaret: We acknowledge the daunting challenge of this time in the society in which we live, with its economic systems that impoverish and disempower people and its political systems that enables the rich to get richer and the earth to become poorer.
We remember that Jesus encountered in his day, systems as unjust as those we experience in our day, and who surely felt powerless to change anything on his own.
We turn our hearts and minds to his message, to his hopes and dreams, to his ardent desire for a better society. We focus on his struggle his reflections his prayer his questions – where to start? how to start? what to say? whom to choose? how to keep going? how to be salt? how to be light?
We call to mind how Jesus urged his listeners to put their trust in the power of being neighbors, in the power of the Divine Spirit within them, in the power of conversion from the religious thinking and practices that made them feel inadequate and worthless.
Dennis: Our prayer today is a prayer of resolve, a prayer of determination that we, each of us, will do whatever we can, however small, in whatever way we can to bring the real dream of Jesus to fruition in our lives and in our world today.
As we start Holy Week we focus on Jesus, human like us, a man with a dream for a better world, a man of extraordinary courage, a man on a journey to the end of his life, a man willing to die for what he believed, a man who knew he would never see his dream fulfilled, a man who had to trust that those who came after him would keep his dream alive.
As we gather once more around the bread and cup we recall how Jesus shared them with his friends shortly before he died. He invited them to eat and drink as a sign of their readiness to keep his memory alive and to give their all for what he believed and taught.
Gathered at the table, Jesus lifted the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them saying,
“Share this bread among you; this is my body which will be broken for justice.
Do this to remember me.” (pause)
When supper was over, he took the cup, gave thanks,
and gave it to his disciples, saying:
“Share this wine among you; this is my blood which will be shed for liberation.
Do this to remember me.” (pause)
Ed: Let us share this bread and this cup in solidarity with all peoples of the world, to be strengthened, so that peace and justice may prevail everywhere.
What we have heard with our ears we will live with our lives. As we share communion we will become communion, both love’s nourishment and love’s challenge.
Please receive Communion with the words: I receive with an open heart.
Communion Meditation: Celtic Forests by Tim Janis
Margaret: God of love, we give you thanks for satisfying our hungry hearts with this meal. Inspire in us the resolve and the courage, the compassion and the passion, to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with you. Amen
Vince: Let us pray the prayer Jesus:
O Holy One, who is within, around and among us,
We celebrate your many names.
Your Wisdom come.
Your will be done, unfolding from the depths within us,
Each day you give us all we need;
You remind us of our limits, and we let go.
You support us in our power, and we act with courage.
For you are the dwelling place within us,
the empowerment around us,
and the celebration among us, now and forever. Amen
(Miriam Therese Winter)
Dennis: Please extend your hands and pray our blessing together.
May we draw courage from each other so that we, like Jesus, can face the everyday challenges that threaten our mission to create the earth anew. Let us remember that we have been chosen to be a blessing to all through radical love and limitless compassion. Amen.
Closing Song: Go Make a Difference
(1)Eucharistic Prayer adapted from Michael Morwood’s book “Prayers for Progressive Christians”, and “The Words of Eucharist” by Kurt Struckmeyer)