If you're "someone" longing to find your "song" this Holy Week, this might just be it. #JourneyToResurrection #DontLetTheLightOut
We celebrate the Risen Christ this Easter! Please join us as we not only hear the familiar story of Jesus’ resurrection, but also hear a lesser known passage written in Isaiah to the devastated exiles who had lost their land, their king, and their Temple. The disciples and followers of Jesus felt heartbreak and despair on that Sunday morning, like the Hebrew people in bondage in Babylon. As Jesus shows himself to be alive once more, the passage in the 49th chapter of Isaiah speaks of a God who has answered them, who has helped them, who has kept them, and has given them as a covenant. God calls on them to courageously say: “to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Appear.’”
As we celebrate Jesus’ coming out of the tomb and appeared before the whole world demonstrating a power and love that the world had not yet imagined, Isaiah’s usage of two little Hebrew verbs also suggest the cosmic purposes of God for his people. The two mandates are first to “come forth” and free the prisoners- free people from their fear, anxiety, despair, hunger, poverty, shame and guilt. Second, we are to announce to the invisible, those in the shadows, at the margins of our society, “Appear!” The power of the resurrection and the life of Jesus is to authorize all persons, all exiles, all marginalized to be fully present and visible, to be fully reconciled to life in community.
So, as we celebrate the reality of Jesus’ coming forth out of the tomb and appearing to the world, we also understand our new role to utter and enact these two little verbs: come forth and appear, so that we might become the covenant that God is seeking in the dawning Kingdom of Heaven!
We now come to Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem this Palm Sunday! He has just come from Bethany, where his raising of Lazarus from the dead made made him a first century rock star! The crowds shouted “Hosanna!” as a word of welcome greeting. Today, we use this often as a word of praise, but it was originally a word of pleading. It welcomed the one who arrived and called for the fulfillment of promises. Realizing this, we can see why the crowd who was so excited on Sunday shouting “Hosanna!” did not oppose the crucifixion of Jesus by Friday. Perhaps many of these same people, seeing that Jesus had not upheld their expectations of a political-militaristic messiah would have become disappointed to the point of shouting “Crucify him!”.
We have a similar problem with “Hosanna!” today; as we make God in our image, contort God to our desires, connect God to our tribal expectations. Let’s not limit the work of God in our lives and relationships with shortsighted understandings. Let us shout “Hosanna!” in faith and trust that wherever God wants to lead us, we will go! Let us welcome that reality this Palm Sunday!
What does it mean to be anointed? Anointing was a common ancient cultural practice. Shepherds often poured oil on the heads of their sheep in order to protect them from insects that would burrow in their ears and kill them, contributing to anointing becoming symbolic of blessing, protection, and empowerment. The Jewish people anointed the altar when making sacrifices. Spiritually, anointing was related to the idea of strength or blessing. Priests were anointed with oil, later followed by Samuel anointing both Saul and later David (one of our texts this week) as kings of Israel. This anointing signified a person as a chosen one among the people.
In the New Testament, we are told God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor" (Luke 4:18.) In Acts 10:38 it says, "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power." This was a term used to emphasize Jesus as the chosen one of God.
In our texts for this week, we see the anointing of David and also Jesus with expensive perfume by his friend Mary, the sister of Lazarus. What do these passages say about the calling of the anointed? What is God calling you to become? What have you been anointed to do? Come and worship with us this Sunday as we explore these questions.
I'm a follower of Christ, husband, father, friend, pastor, story teller, asker of questions, inspired by biblical narratives, social justice advocate, sports enthusiast, drinker of over priced coffee and general seeker of God's redemptive possibilities. Yeah, that about covers it. (If you discover something else, let me know!)