The Spirit Calendar
A Weekly Devotional from the Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ
April 03, 2017
This week's author Cecile Gilson, Executive Assistant to the Conference Minister of the Connecticut Conference.
Scripture: Matthew 21: 9-11(NRSV)
The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’
In Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossen’s book, The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus's Final Days in Jerusalem
, they talk about the historical context in which the Palm Sunday event occurred. Passover was the most sacred week in the Jewish tradition. Many gathered in Jerusalem at the temple to commemorate the occasion. The Romans, led by Pontius Pilate and the Roman Governor of the region, also gathered in the city to oversee the festivities and maintain control of the crowds. In true Roman fashion Pilate and his entourage entered the gates of the city with fanfare, pomp and a show of force thus declaring their superiority and domination of the community.
On the other side of town there is a more modest parade. Jesus rides down the Mount of Olives on a donkey while palms and cloaks were laid in his path. The crowds shout “Hosanna” while waving palms and other branches. By comparison this parade is one of humility and joy. Those present are hopeful that Jesus is bringing them out of a repressive regime, the very regime that is entering the city with pomp and circumstance on the other side of town.
The two parades and the message they send couldn’t be more different. One is a message of power and oppression, the power and theology of empire; one is a message of humility and hope, an alternative vision-the Kindom
Today we celebrate Palm Sunday as a sign of hope and love. Jesus did not “rescue” the people from oppression in the manner they expected. Instead he offered a new way to live with love for all, a way of life that lifts us out of oppression and offers hope to everyone. We need this message of hope now more than ever. It is easy to despair witnessing the parade of pomposity in our world today. It is harder to remember to live as Jesus taught, to lead by his example and to love as he loved. As we journey though this week before Easter let us remember that we have the strength and courage through Jesus to face our own Easter experiences.
O God, we are like the people of Jerusalem so long ago.
We are hungry for a hero.
We crave some glimpse of greatness.
We are starving for the spectacular.
We are gathered here like those who watched
the Passion-Parade in Jerusalem,
craning our necks to catch a glimpse of our Messiah.
As we wait here for the Savior to come
let us not be disappointed when the special one appears
even though we are certain to be surprised;
and give us courage to follow
where the one on the donkey might lead us.
From Touch Holiness, Resources for Worship
, Edited by Ruth C. Duck and Maren C. Tirabassi
Special Prayer Requests:
- Those grieving or suffering in Colombia where heavy rains last week (March 31) caused severe flooding, killing more the 200 and injuring many more;
- Those grieving or suffering after a bomb blast in St. Petersburg, Russia, killed at least 10 and injured more than 30 on April 3; and
- Those grieving after a crash in Texas left 13 dead when a bus carrying church members collided with a pickup truck on March 29.
- Those students and teachers in Japan who were injured or are missing after an avalanche struck while they were skiing on March 27;
- those grieving or suffering after a nightclub shooting in Cincinnati left one dead and 15 injured on March 26;
- those grieving or suffering after a shooting in Sanford, FL left 1 dead and 5 injured on March 27;
- the people of Peru where intense rains are causing flooding and mudslides which have left at least 72 dead and many more isolated and homeless, during the week of March 20;
- Rev. Sara Smith, Senior Pastor of United Congregational Church of Bridgeport, who is recovering from an injury;
- The members and staff of United Congregational Church of Bridgeport, who are preparing to move from their building to a new location;
- Mark Engstrom, member of the CT Conference Board of Directors, and his wife Nina, who are facing health issues;
- the community of Conway, MA, and the United Congregational Church, UCC, Conway after a tornado touched down on Feb. 25 causing significant structural damage;
- he people of South Sudan where nearly 1 million people are facing famine;
- Richard "Ned" Bunell, member of First Congregational Church of Canton Center, who was hospitalized for an illness and is now recovering;
- John Polglase, husband of the Rev. Betsey Polglase, Pastor of the Columbia Congregational Church UCC, who has chronic pulmonary disease;
- the Rev. Micki Nunn-Miller, who had knee surgery on Jan. 17;
- Debi Mastroni Kenyon, Director of Faith Formation at Monroe Congregational Church, who had surgery on Jan. 18;
- the members and staff of Thompson Congregational Church after a fire severely damage the building on Dec. 29;
- Michael White, former Operations Manager at Silver Lake Conference Center, who was diagnosed with colon cancer;
- Juliane Silver, the daughter of the Rev. Jim Silver of Middletown, who is in dire need of a liver transplant. We pray that a donor will come forward giving the gift of life and a portion of their liver to Juliane;
- Chacy Eveland, husband of the Rev. Marcia Eveland, pastor of the First Congregational Church UCC of Ansonia, who has been moved to a full-time facility for care of dementia;
- the thousands of migrants worldwide who flee from violence and persecution in search of safety;
- our ecumenical partners in the Kyung-Ki Presbytery in South Korea;
- the Conference's partners working for peace in Colombia amidst violence;
- the leaders of this nation, that they may meet the challenges of the day with insight, wisdom, and compassion;
- this nation, that it may continue its difficult work to end the practices of racism;
- those suffering due to the ongoing financial woes of the nation, be they struggling to meet an unaffordable mortgage, seeking employment, or working to find just resolutions; and
- those serving or living in war or conflict zones around the world, or where terrorists have struck.
To be added to the prayer list, please send an email to Drew Page at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
Church of Christ Congregational
John R. Madsen-Bibeau - DT
First Congregational Church of Granby, UCC
Virginia A. McDaniel - P
Rebecca Brown - CE
South Congregational Church, UCC
Dennis Moon - SP
Sandra Fischer - AP
Dawn Marie Karlson - AP
Second Congregational Church, UCC
R. Maxwell Grant - SP
Shawn Garan - Y
Jessica Stanciu - CE
Alexander Constantine - MM
Lisbeth Lloyd - MM
First Congregational Church of Griswold UCC
Edythe Steele - P
Sue Curtis - MM
The Spirit Calendar:
April 03, 2017