PALMS ARE AVAILABLE! The harvesting of our “Eco-Palms” was already underway when the COVID-19 closure began in west Michigan. We were unable to amend our order and the palms for our Sunday celebration arrived this week. You are welcome to pick up palms outside the office west entrance to the church building, under the Cross Tower, this weekend. A table with palms has been placed there for those who drive by while gathering groceries or getting some fresh air . . .
Let us pray.
Five-year-old Kendal joins the people of Trinity in prayer on Sunday, March 29.
I invite you into Holy Week. With Kendal and her family, gathered for “virtual worship” live streaming, Trinity’s members and friends are invited to gather with us, separate but together, for worship on the Sunday of the Passion, Palm Sunday, at 9:15 a.m. As we begin Holy Week together, we will hear the Processional Gospel of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, receive a ‘virtual’ blessing of the palms and those who bear them, join in songs of praise and enter into prayer.
Then, beginning with the reading from Isaiah and culminating with the Passion According to St. Matthew, our cries of “Hosanna, blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” transition to the somber encounter with the arrest, trial, humiliation and crucifixion of our Lord. We enter into Holy Week and proceed to the foot of the cross in order that we might witness the power of resurrection, gazing into the empty tomb with the first disciples and with the saints of every age who have gone before us.
It’s been said that the great story we tell during Holy Week is to be proclaimed, not explained. There are no words that will explain the complex series of texts, actions, and rites that bridge the church’s Lenten season of preparation and the mystery of Easter’s dying and rising. Holy Week is our annual encounter with the deepest mysteries of faith, and all we can do is point and proclaim. We point to the Savior bent to wash his friends’ feet and we proclaim servanthood. We point to the Savior breaking the loaf and lifting the cup and we proclaim remembrance poured out. We point to the altar’s stripping and we proclaim surrender. We point to the cross and we proclaim a love that knows no limits, not even death. Jesus’ command to love one another as he has loved us is both the law and the gospel, the dying and the rising that ties together our pointing and proclaiming. We confess that such love cannot be fully accomplished in human life apart from Christ. But we have Christ, and that is how the Holy Week story comes out.
This year, as we join our voices in shouts of “Hosanna,” the image I will carry into worship is of the citizens of Italy singing together in full voice across city squares from their quarantined apartments. I will envision the peoples in skyscrapers in New York City, Boston and Chicago, from the neighborhoods around Beaumont Hospital in Detroit, and from the communities where we all live, shouting, banging pots and applauding our heroic health care workers as the shifts change in our hospitals and medical centers. I will hold in my prayers the families and friends of nursing home and care center residents, hosting birthday celebrations, sharing family photographs and shouting words of encouragement to their loved ones from outside the windows of their rooms.
This year, as our Palm Sunday exuberance transitions to the Sunday of the Passion, I will be holding in prayer all of those who live in fear and anxiety in the year of COVID-19, all who are desperately trying to shelter in place from the trauma of this time in our world, and all who are the depressed and the lonely, the despairing and the inconsolable, the grieving and the numb. Theirs is the encounter with the shock, loss and deep fear known by the earliest followers of Jesus, in their own “stay-at-home” response to the disaster of their lives, the execution of their teacher, friend and Lord.
Let us pray together as we enter into this holy time, this Holy Week.
And then, after a few days go by, we will celebrate that we know how the story comes out, even in our time. Fear and anxiety do not have the last word. Isolation and grief do not have the last word. Death itself is defeated and a promise of new life resurrection is ours. More on that in the days ahead . . .
First, let us come together in worship, praise and prayer. Let us hold one another in those acts of worship, praise and prayer, perhaps even kneeling before the screen broadcasting the live stream, in beautiful piety, with hands folded and heads bowed as we seek our Lord’s intercession.
Join us for live streaming of worship in Holy Week and on Easter Sunday:
- Sunday of the Passion/Palm Sunday, April 15 at 9:15 a.m.
- Maundy Thursday, April 9 at 7 p.m.
- Good Friday, April 10 at 7 p.m.
- Easter Sunday, the Resurrection of Our Lord, April 12 at 9:15 a.m.
It is a privilege to serve as one of your pastors.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Bob Linstrom