As was shared during most of yesterday’s services, Psalm 118:1-2 and Isaiah 50:8a-9a say the following: “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!” “He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. It is the Lord who helps me.”
On that Sunday long ago, the clamoring masses embraced Christ as the center of their lives -- sort of. On Palm Sunday they were "glad in him," the "stone that the builders rejected." The center of their universe. They claimed him as a political savior, someone who might turn around their economic woes, as someone who might bring some measure of liberty from the tyranny of the Roman Empire. They welcomed Jesus like fans today might do the wave. JE-SUS! JE-SUS! JE-SUS!
But they were not ready to embrace him as one whose teachings they could follow. They were not willing to turn the other cheek. They were not willing to "go and sin no more." They did not understand that one who would be greatest must be the least? They did not get it that the first will be last, and the last first? They did not applaud the idea that there's no greater joy or mission than to serve others?
There are plenty of struggling Christians around, and most of us struggle with our faith from time to time. Life circumstances make us doubt God's goodness. Old sins continue to harass us. Bad habits keep us ashamed. Depressing failures haunt us. We suffer through days when the claims of Christ seem more of a burden than a blessing.
But when we work at the spiritual disciplines and open to Christ the gates at the center of our lives our predominant experience is that faith is not a burden but a delight.
That is reason to shout, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
Are we in the midst of a real struggle? Yes we are. Do we understand all the ramifications of Covid 19? No we don’t. Can we be nearer than ever to He who vindicates us? Yes we can. I have been encouraged by the many ways we are reacting to this virus and its ramifications. We are finding all sorts of ways to be connected. We are making faith real in our lives and the way we respond to needs of others, many of whom we don’t know and will probably never see face to face. Even though we are not just contending with what people may do, but a virus. Even though there are different kinds of adversaries surrounding us with fears, difficulties, loneliness, isolation and sorrows, we know that the Lord helps us. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Jesus made his teachings clear with all that took place between Palm Sunday and Easter. We have received the lesson that we are never alone, that we can serve and be served, we can love in the midst of sorrow, and we can sacrifice when it is required because we know we are in Christ and He is in us. Together, nothing can overcome the love of God.
Hymn: “Where Charity and Love Prevail” v. 1
Where charity and love prevail,
there God is ever found;
brought here together by Christ’s love,
by love we thus are bound.
Loving God, you sent your Son to show us what love really means.
Help us take personally the lessons he taught so as to make a
world of difference. Help us to respond to the troubles we
encounter with courage and strength to do what must be done.
We trust You and your Holy Spirit’s presence
in all facets of our lives and our hopes.
Guide our actions and our prayers as
we pray in the precious name of Jesus,