4/5/20 – “What a Difference a Week Makes”

Posted on : Apr 1st, 2020 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Join Us This Sunday April 5, 2020
11:00 AM

West Hollywood UCC Palm Sunday Online Worship
Distance Won’t Keep Us Apart!

Instructions for Joining:

Topic: West Hollywood UCC Palm Sunday Worship

Time: Apr 5, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Click the Link Below to Join the Palm Sunday Online Worship: https://zoom.us/j/920895963

A dialog box may appear on your screen with a request to allow Zoom. Click “Allow.”

Dial one of the numbers below if you are joining by phone only:

+1 301 715 8592 US
+1 253 215 8782 US

You will be prompted to enter the meeting ID: 920 895 963 followed by #

 

~Reflection~

Just a few weeks ago everything seemed to be humming along nicely (with the exception of our national politics in disarray).  The financial markets were at an all-time high and unemployment was very low. People were going about their daily lives, planning trips, shopping, going to work, dining out, going to the movies, attending church services, enjoying fine weather.  Here in the desert region of Southern California where I live it was the height of the winter season.  The Coachella Valley was packed with snowbirds from Canada and colder parts of the US.  The seasonal activities here were in full swing or about to begin:  tennis tournaments, music festivals, golf tournaments, tourists flocking to the area to enjoy warm weather and swimming pools.  Then suddenly the terror in the form of a virus struck and life for all of us changed in the matter of a week.  The economy took a nose dive, people had to scramble to work from home and figure out how to cope with their children attending school from a distance.  Many people found themselves out of work or on reduced income.  Some people had to face going to work because their jobs were deemed essential and now, they had to live with the threat of exposure to a potentially deadly illness.  For some folk they also had to find unanticipated child care without knowing how they would ever manage it.  Churches had to cancel services or implement some form of online worship.  In my area what had been a bustling community in high season was suddenly a ghost town.  Rental cars by the thousands were parked in and around the airport as tourists and seasonal residents scrambled to get home before deadlines took effect.  It was and is all so surreal and frightening.  For most of us we’ve never had life so altered so quickly. 

This Sunday we begin Holy Week with Palm Sunday and the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.  This year it will be particularly poignant for us as we recount how Jesus went from a high point full of adulation to the lowest depths of rejection, abandonment, suffering and death in less than a week. Cheers turned to jeers in the matter of a few days.  A lot can happen in 7 days as Jesus knew and it’s hard to imagine what went through his mind as he contemplated all that would happen to him in the span of a week.  Yet in all of this he found time to gather with his disciples, wash their feet on Thursday as an act of humility when he had just been praised as a sovereign on Sunday.  In foreseeing what he was about to face he knew he must first pass on to those disciples a new commandment that they love one another since he would not be with them much longer.  We know the rest of the story: how he was betrayed by Judas, arrested, denied by Peter, mocked by the crowds, whipped, sentenced to die, crucified on Friday and died.  This would be a tragic story indeed except for the fact we also know how it ended.  At the beginning of the week, 7 days after his entry into Jerusalem, there was resurrection and the hope of new life.  We may not know how our current reality will end and how life will be changed for us when this crisis is over but since we know how one story ended, we know we can live in hope of better things to come.  May the risen Christ be with us.

Blessings,

George

 

~This Sunday’s Scriptures~

John 12: 12-19
Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.  So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of our God —
the Sovereign of Israel!”

Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:

“Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.
Look, your sovereign is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him.  So the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to testify.  It was also because they heard that he had performed this sign that the crowd went to meet him.  The Pharisees then said to one another, “You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!”

John 13: 21-30
Jesus Foretells His Betrayal

After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.”  The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking.  One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him;  Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking.  So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Who is it?”  Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.”  So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot.  After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.”  Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him.  Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor.  So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

 

John 13: 31-35
The New Commandment

 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Human One has been glorified, and God has been glorified in the One.  If God has been glorified in the One, God will also be glorified and will glorify the Human One at once.  Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’  I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

John 13: 36-38
Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial

Simon Peter said to him, “Where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.”  Peter said to him, “Why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”  Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.

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