Sunday, April 1, 2012

Holy Week - Palm Sunday

Today’s Scriptures:

Psalm 24, 29, 109

Zechariah 9:9-12, 12:9-13:9

1 Timothy 6:12-16

Luke 19:41-48

Today’s Question:

How do we miss God’s presence among us?

Today’s Reflection:

As we enter Holy Week, today’s passages remind us of times when people of the time failed to see God as he worked in the world around them. From the time of David recounting false persecutors just as Christ would face, to the prophet Zechariah narrating the triumphal entry and execution of Christ, and the exhortation to Paul to maintain the faith until Christ’s return at the appointed time, people often overlooked the work or God, indeed, God’s presence among them, in order to protect their personal interests.

David’s Psalms today reflect on God’s power over all creation. The final Psalm focuses on God’s involvement in human endeavors. In a few verses he describes the conflict between wicked and good, which may also be read powerful and weak. The clarification that the lengthy punishment being described applies to the wicked comes at the end of the passage, leading the reader to believe, at first, that the curses described were the effects on the people against whom the false testimony had been presented. And this was likely true – for a time.

Zechariah continues the view of the coming king as he describes the arrival. The selections from 9, 12, and 13 set the stage for the events of Holy Week as it begins with a triumphal arrival and ends with deadly rejection that makes possible our status today. While the passage also presents the coming king with images of military victory; however, verse 10 specifically declares “he shall declare peace to the nations.”

The passage in Luke describes Jesus’s compassion for the people and popularity with them. His cleansing of the temple and teachings to the people led to the actions of the religious leadership that led to Christ’s execution by the Romans.

Each of the passages describes God’s compassion for the people and in a relevant context for today. Some today see in the passages a populist message in its appeal to the masses. Others see in it a call to social justice. Yet others see class warfare. Because our context blinds us to views contrary to our own, we can miss the presence of God as he seeks to move us out of our place into his. Defining ourselves into a certain method of interpreting scripture immediately blinds us to any message from God that conflicts with our paradigm. Just as leaders in the times of David, Zechariah, and Jesus sought to maintain their status and missed God at work, we too need to open our eyes to the broadness of God’s love and activity.

Holy Week gives us the opportunity, after the season of Lenten reflection, to closely examine the work of God through Christ in his final days as incarnate man in the context of the time and contrasted to the work of the religious and political leaders in the context of the time. The understanding that comes challenges us to consider who we are: the people or the Pharisees. As we reach the answer, perhaps we will understand how we overlook God’s presence among us.

Today’s Prayer:

Let us open our eyes and our hearts through Holy Week and beyond to see God among us. May our eyes be open to that which is different but ordained in God’s will for the fulfillment of his kingdom.