4.01.2009

Palm Sunday

[It's time for another one of those public service announcements about the structure of the lectionary. If you use a comprehensive source for lectionary texts (like our favorite http://divinity.library.vanderbilt.edu/lectionary/index.htm), you'll notice two sets of readings for this week - one for Palm Sunday and one for Passion Sunday. You see, the folks sitting at the big lectionary table in the sky determined that fewer and fewer people were walking through the experience of holy week by reading through the story and experiencing the three-fold worship service that comprised the Easter Triduum, beginning on Maundy Thursday, continuing through Good Friday and a very long Easter Vigil that lasted for 12 or more hours on Saturday/Sunday, and culminating with Easter Sunday. Not experiencing these days of unfolding the story made for an awkward leap between the traditional observances of Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. {Perhaps you've heard the phrase you can't experience resurrection without death?} So... The lectionary was revised to include a more complete telling of the passion story on the Sunday that precedes Easter. And so...]

Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm 31:9-16
Philippians 2:5-11
Mark 14:1-15:47

Extravagance.

Have you ever experienced a sort of hypersensitivity to the world around you. For example, if you are someone who has migraines, you might be keenly aware of how overwhelming light can be - how every nerve in your head fires at the brightness around it. Or if you happen to be a woman and have been pregnant, perhaps you have experienced a hypersensitivity to odors - the smell of flowers, citrus, laundry, sour milk, wet ground all take on a nearly three dimensional quality. Or maybe you have been so keenly in love with another human that almost everything around you took on expanded sensory complexity - colors are tactile, sounds have odor, etc. etc. etc. Extravagent. Rich. Stimulating. Overwhelming. Frightening.

The narrative of the last days of Jesus' life can read in this extrasensory way. The players all seemed to be experiencing overwhelming response to the world around them. And it altered their ability to be human - or maybe it altered their humanity - they could no longer see how they were contributing to the forward momentum of events leading to a brutal execution surrounded by an angry mob. The readings this week drag us through that emotional space.

And so for this week's readings (that really lead us right up to the resurrection) we are not going to impose too much more of a frame on the scriptures. Instead, we encourage you to read through them--especially the passage from Mark--maybe even read them out loud and pay attention to the different emotions that show up in the different people in the story.

-Take some time to imagine what each person might be feeling.
-How do each individual's emotions change as the story moves forward?
-Do you identify with any of these emotions yourself?


The Remains by Mark Strand
I empty myself of the names of others. I empty my pockets.
I empty my shoes and leave them beside the road.
At night I turn back the clocks;
I open the family album and look at myself as a boy.

What good does it do? The hours have done their job.
I say my own name. I say goodbye.
The words follow each other downwind.
I love my wife but send her away.

My parents rise out of their thrones
into the milky rooms of clouds. How can I sing?
Time tells me what I am. I change and I am the same.
I empty myself of my life and my life remains.

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