Sixth Sunday of Lent 2019/Liturgy of the Palm & the Passion: The Epistle Passage – Good things to come as the season of Lent draws to a close

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5 – 8)

I am trying to navigate my way, beloved reader, through the scripture passages for the Liturgy of the Palm and the Passion which combines highlights from both Palm Sunday and foreshadowing of the Holy Week. When planning a worship service with these passages one picks and choices the passages used depending on the emphasis and theme desired. When uses the lectionary for personal study and reflection the themes and emphasizes of the passages come forth individually as each person perceives them. I am doing neither.

I trying to present a theme the draws together all four types of passage (Old Testament, Epistles, Gospel, and Psalm) and that remains true to the season of the church year. It at times can be a heady experience – and other times a bit of a headache! What I am finding is that some of the passages (or more precisely the story they tell) used this week are used again during Holy Week. And having written blogs for multiple lectionary cycles I am mindful of not getting to far ahead in the story of Lent and Easter. It is a story we know quite well, and I try to find fresh approaches.

“Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Verses 9 – 11)

Paul, the writer of Philippians (and most of the other epistles) was probably mindful too that the story was a powerful one and needed to be told well. But for him that was an advantage. Paul raced headlong into the story of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection because for him that was the whole point – getting to the end and the promise of salvation. The church year, however, as it is constructs carefully makes its way through the story of Jesus’ annunciation to his birth through his (it seems brief) growing up years through his travels and ministry that lead to Lent and THEN slows down even MORE through Holy Week.

If we were approaching this story as “new” news, we would not yet know WHY “ at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord . . . “ And you, beloved reader, being patient move through the story all with me marveling at each step and revelation. (Don’t disillusion me by telling me you are just cooling your heels until the crescendo and denouement.)

You know this is going to be my 60th year of experiencing Lent – although to be far the first 20 or 25 years I probably did not realize the significance. But still, that is a good many “been aware” years of seasons of Lent to journey through and still retain a fresh perspective. And what is more, there are still many years to come of the seasons of Lent (not to mention the other seasons of the church year) to retain and reignite a fresh perspective. Maybe, beloved reader, that is a challenge for you too. If so, let us continue to journey together for whatever years there remain – appreciating the awe and splendor of each story and scripture passage. Selah!

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