It may not appear on the Town Calendar, but the Ecumencial Liturgy of the Palms surely belongs among Guilford's great traditions on the Green. On Palm Sunday, Christ Church joins with our neighbors from First Congregational and St. George Churches, to recall Our Lord's entry into Jerusalem. We meet at 9:45 a.m. at the center of the Green, to hear the story of the procession down the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem, to bless and wave "leafy branches," just like those who welcomed Jesus, and to proclaim him the heir to King David. When we have prayed and sung together, we turn to our respective houses of worship to begin Holy Week.
Palm Sunday has another name: Sunday of the Passion. On this Sunday, we read ahead through the events of the coming days -- teachings and actions that reveal Jesus' love for us. In particular, we read the portion of Matthew's account of Jesus' Passion from his trial before PIlate to his death and burial. We typically read this portion of the Passion in parts, and the almost universal custom is for the congregation to take the part of the "crowd" calling for Jesus to be crucified. In recent years, we are an exception to this practice.
As "Christ Church," we are a fellowship bearing the name of Christ; as such, we are a gathered body of Jesus. Therefore, in recent years, the whole worshiping assembly has taken the part of Jesus, and reads his words. Individuals and groups among us will recall the words of those who wanted Jesus dead. As a "religious authority" of sorts, it pains me to recall the evil done when other religious authorities felt threatened by Jesus.
The Church's calendar for Lent, Holy Week and Easter, is determined by the sun and the moon, and so, they move earlier and later each year. Our Guilford Public School's calendar for spring break is set as the second full week in April. This year, Holy Week and Spring Break are the same week! With families and Spring Break trips beginning a.s.a.p., our Sunday formation programs for children and youth will not meet on Palm Sunday this year. And we will want to keep all travelers in our prayers, including the Guilford High School Choir traveling to Ireland, and the Pilgrim Fellowship traveling to New Orleans.
With the shortened interval between services on Palm Sunday, the Rectory Forum will forgo its meeting. Participants in Tuesday's Soup Supper are encouraged to read chapters 7 & 8 in Madeleine L'Engle's A Wind in the Door before this week's meeting. The stories of "Naming & UnNaming," and "Love & Xing" seem particularly poignant for the Passion. There may be a sermon or two in there!
For this week's reflection on "Our Holy Land," I encourage you to become acquainted with the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. This organization, based in Connecticut, provides a vital opportunity for us to connect to the spiritual, educational, and healing work of the Episcopal Church ln our Holy Land. You can find a video introduction to AFEDJ here.
When the UConn Women's Basketball Team lost their first game after 111 victories in the final four of the March Madness women's tournament, that was a surprising upset! A similar shocking upset happened this week in Lent Madness when Florence Nightingale "defeated" Martin Luther. What made Luther's "loss" particularly surprising, is that 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of Martin nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenburg Cathedral. That was the 1517 version of posting on-line, his objections to certain traditions and practices of the Catholic Church. The theological conversation he hoped to begin, is generally credited with beginning the Protestant Reformation in Europe. Of course, Nurse Nightingale began a revolutionary reformation of her own; hers was in nursing, and we continue to benefit from the work she began.
You can follow, and vote on the final four -- St. Stephen, Franz Jaggerstatter, Amelia Bloomer and Florence Nighingale -- this week, by going to www.lentmadness.org.
Wherever this week finds you, I hope you will find times and places to follow Jesus' passion.
In faith and hope,
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!