Thursday, April 12, 2012

Emerging Elderhood: A Bibliography


Baab, Lynn M. Embracing Midlife: Congregations as Support Systems. Herndon, Va: Alban Institute, 1999.   

Bankson, Marjory Zoet. Creative Aging: Rethinking Retirement and Non-Retirement in a Changing World. Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths, 2010.  

Bateson, Mary Catherine. Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.   

Berman, Phillip L., and Connie Goldman, eds. The Ageless Spirit. New York: Ballantine, 1992.   

Bianchi, Eugene C. Aging as a Spiritual Journey. New York: Crossroad, 1982.   

Bianchi, Eugene C. Elder Wisdom: Crafting Your Own Elderhood. New York: Crossroad, 1994.  

Birren, James E., and K. Warner Schaie, eds. Handbook of the Psychology of Aging. 6th ed. Boston: Elsevier Academic Press, 2006.   

Bridges, William. Transitions. 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2004.  

Carlson, Dosia. Engaging in Ministry with Older Adults. Herndon, Va: Alban Institute, 1997.   

Changes: Prayers and Services Honoring Rites of Passage. New York: Church Publishing, 2007.  

Coles, Robert. The Old Ones of New Mexico. Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Press, 1973.  

Empereur, James L. Prophetic Anointing: God’s Call to the Sick, the Elderly, and the Dying. Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1982.  

Erikson, Erik H., The Life Cycle Completed. Extended Version with New Chapters on the Ninth Stage of Development by Joan M. Erikson. New York: Norton, 1997.  

Erikson, Erik H., Joan M. Erikson, and Helen Q. Kivnick. Vital Involvement in Old Age. New York: Norton, 1986.  

Fischer, Kathleen R. Winter Grace: Spirituality and Aging. Nashville: Upper Room Books, 1998.  

Fischer, Kathleen R. Winter Grace: Spirituality for the Later Years. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1985.   

Fowler, James W., Becoming Adult, Becoming Christian: Adult Development and Christian Faith, rev. ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000.  

Friedman, Dayle A. Jewish Visions for Aging: A Professional Guide for Fostering Wholeness. Woodstock VT: Jewish Lights, 2008.  

Friedman, Edwin H. “A Family Approach to Life-Cycle Ceremonies.” Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue. New York: Guilford Press, 1985. 147-192.   

Friedman, Edwin H. “Systems and Ceremonies: A Family View of Rites of Passage.” What Are You Going to Do with Your Life? Unpublished Writings and Diaries. New York: Seabury, 2009. 50-83.    

Gelpi, Donald L. “The Ritual of Anointing.” Committed Worship: A Sacramental Theology for Converting Christians. Vol. II, The Sacraments of Ongoing Conversion. Collegeville, MN: Michael Glazier, 1993. 171-197.  .

Harris, J. Gordon. Biblical Perspectives on Aging: God and the Elderly. 2nd ed. New York: Haworth Pastoral Press, 2008.   

Hauerwas, Stanley, Carole Bailey Stoneking, Keith G. Meador, David Cloutier, eds. Growing Old in Christ. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2003.   

Houston, James M., and Michael W. Parker. A Vision for the Aging Church: Renewing Ministry for and by Seniors. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2011.    

Kelcourse, Felicity Brock, ed. Human Development and Faith: Life-cycle Stages of Body, Mind, and Soul. St. Louis, Mo.: Chalice Press, 2004.     

Kenny, James, and Stephen Spicer. Elder Care: Coping with Late-Life Crisis. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1989.   

Kimble, Melvin A., Susan H. McFadden, James W. Ellor, James J. Seeber, eds. Aging, Spirituality, and Religion: A Handbook, Volume 1. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995.   

Kimble, Melvin A., Susan H. McFadden, eds. Aging, Spirituality, and Religion: A Handbook, Volume 2. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003.   

Laslett, Peter. A Fresh Map of Life: The Emergence of the Third Age. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991.   

Liebert, Elizabeth. “Seasons and Stages: Models and Metaphors of Human Development.” In Her Own Time: Women and Developmental Issues in Pastoral Care. Edited by Jeanne Stevenson Moessner, 19-41. Minneapolis: Fortress Press 2000.  

Maves, Paul B. Faith for the Older Years: Making the Most of Life’s Second Half. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1986.   

McFadden, Susan H., “Gerontology and the Psychology of Religion,” Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. Edited by Raymond F. Paloutzian & Crystal L. Park. New York: Guilford Press, 2005. 162-176.

McClendon, James William, Jr., Biography as Theology: How Life Stories Can Remake Today’s Theology. Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1974.  

Meilaender, Gilbert. “Thinking About Aging.” First Things. April 2011. accessed August 10, 2011.

Mitchell, Kenneth R., and Herbert Anderson. All Our Losses, All Our Griefs: Resources for Pastoral Care. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1983.  

Myerhoff, Barbara G. Number Our Days: Culture and Community Among Elderly Jews in an American Ghetto. New York: Meridian, 1994.   

Nouwen, Henri J. M., and Walter J. Gaffney. Aging: The Fulfillment of Life. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday/Image, 1990. Original edition 1974.  

Schachter-Shalomi, Zalman and Ronald S. Miller. From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Profound New Vision of Growing Older. New York: Warner Books, 1995.  

Seeber, James J., ed. Spiritual Maturity in the Later Years. New York: Haworth Press, 1990.    

Sullender, R. Scott. Losses in Later Life: A New Way of Walking With God. Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1989.  

Vaillant, George E. Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life from the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development. New York: Little, Brown, 2002.  

Weaver, Andrew J., Harold G. Koenig, Phyllis C. Roe, eds. Reflections on Aging and Spiritual Growth. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998.

Emerging Elderhood: Coming into the Fullness of Our Years

The Third Age (Peter Laslett), older adulthood, stage 7 (Erikson), senescence (ouch! from the coiner of the less-unfelicitous “adolescence”), younger old age: the age whatever you call it when we make the major life-cycle transition from the middle years of mature adulthood into the final years of our lives in old age.
Ripening – is what it can mean.
Old age can fall like a blow. It can arrive suddenly. What was once strong is now weak. What was once reliable, taken for granted, is now fallible, uncertain.
Old age can arrive like a gift. It can be the gentle turning of leaves, the first red patch on a maple in late August along a summer river. It can be the ungentle remark of a child, my hair is brown, your hair is gray. 
Old age can arrive like a thank-you note. You have done a lot for me. I hear your story and I welcome it as wisdom. 
Before that – before that – we are not ready yet. We don’t want to go on this trip. Or we’re glad to.
We will explore here that great journey, together, that each of us may anticipate as the coming into fullness of our years.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

He has been raised - and we with him

He was crucified under Pontius Pilate. The most scrupulous of scholars will affirm that as historical fact. But --

We would know nothing of Jesus if he had not been raised from the dead. As it is nothing can stay the same; for we do know of him – and we know him. Because he has been raised from the dead, our faith is alive.

Our faith is in a living Lord – and that makes all the difference. He is alive – and so he is not just a historical figure – to be studied as just another man. He is alive and is alive in us. He is not a mere memory – someone to talk about from the days of a distant past. He is a presence. His influence is all around us and on us and in us.

Jesus is not so much someone to talk about – as someone to meet, not so much someone to know about – as someone to know, and not so much to know – as to be known by.

We may begin by learning about him, studying him, discussing his impact on us, but we wake up to his living presence at last; we know him and trust him. 

(The above draws on William Barclay, The Gospel of Mark. Revised Edition. The Daily Study Bible Series. Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press, 1956. 368-369.)

From this point on our lives do not stand still – they move. For our faith is in a living Lord – always moving, changing, revealing new wonders for us to discover, new delights for us to enjoy and share with him. We take joy in his presence in others; we delight in the creation he unfolds; we pause in wonder at the depths of his love.

Truth deepens within us – and so we too are ever changing, growing, developing, and maturing in faith, as we walk with him on the path to Jerusalem and beyond.

Where will we go from here? What happens to us – but to grow in faith? Even as we age physically, we can be growing spiritually. We find ourselves on an upward path, toward his glory, toward knowing him at last in fullness— being known ourselves.

What little we know of the resurrected life of the individual we shall learn in the gospel lessons of the next few weeks – the season of Easter. What we know of the resurrected life of the community – of the Body of Christ that is the Church – we shall study from the Day of Pentecost all the way through to the feast of All Saints. It is a long green growing season in which we see the resurrection of our Lord and its implications for life played out in the life of the believers, our lives.

From our baptism we begin on the journey of faith, the journey into freedom. It is a long journey, a pilgrimage: to become perfected in our faith, to be sustained in the Spirit, and to grow into the fullness of the stature of Christ.

Today we welcome a new person into the journey, together with us – a new pilgrim into our company of travelers – as we together walk the way of Jesus – and as we welcome the newly baptized so we deepen and reinforce our own commitment as followers of the cross, as heirs of hope, as witnesses of the resurrection.

Today we baptize a new member of the household of faith. We take a vow on her behalf. Her parents and godparents undertake to raise her in the faith; the congregation undertakes to support them in this effort – and to see her grow in Christ. This is our job. This is part of the work of a Christian community: to see its new members grow in faith and grow into the fullness of the stature of Christ.

During the sacrament of Holy Baptism,
The Celebrant asks the parents and godparents:
Will you be responsible for seeing that the child you present
is brought up in the Christian faith and life?
And each of the Parents and Godparents responds:
I will, with God's help.
And the Celebrant asks:
Will you by your prayers and witness help this child to grow
into the full stature of Christ?
And the Parents and Godparents each respond:
I will, with God's help.
But then the Celebrant addresses the congregation, saying:

Will you who witness these vows do all in your
power to support these persons in their life in Christ?

And the People say      We will.

It is that third vow I want to talk to you about today. What it means for the newly baptized, for her parents and godparents, for you – and for the community around you. We are each of us - and all of us - called into a ministry of support for baptized persons in their life in Christ.

As a people of God, as a welcoming, Christ-centered community of faithful believers, we are called to embody and fulfill our own baptismal promises. These are the promises of the Baptismal Covenant, which we will reaffirm in just a few minutes. We are called – as God’s people – to become the good news for the people in our community.

We are the ones who will act as super-godparents of the faithful – not just this child and her sisters but all persons who come to us seeking the life of faith, the good news of Christ.

“We will!” the people say. We say it with all the good will in the world, but what will it mean? In coming days after the liturgy what difference will it have made to say this?

“We will” comes as the ‘third vow’ in the rite of baptism, as it does in the rites of marriage and ordination. It comes after the candidates, or the parents and godparents speaking on their behalf, have said, “I will.”

It is the undertaking of the congregation – to uphold and support these people in their pledge.

What will it mean after the service –?

There is no indication in the Book of Common Prayer that this third vow is to be taken any less seriously, or carried out with less of a will, than the vows that precede it in the rite.

At baptisms we are used to parents, godparents, sponsors, witnesses and/or presenters to take a role. This is not a private, family ceremony, but a service of the church and public. It is not simply giving something special away – it requires responsible incorporation of new members into the community of faith.

Grace is what we want to impart – not cheaply nor wantonly entered into but advisedly and soberly, with a reasonable intention to guide us. The minister, the priest, must have, indeed, a ‘founded hope’ (in the felicitous Roman phrase) that the child shall be raised in the faith. This hope must be founded on vows not only individual but congregational.

Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support these persons in their new life in Christ?

We ask those who are to be baptized to come forward. We call them out of the congregation, saying, Come forward. You sponsors come along too; and we will pray for you, and we will work with you, and walk with you, in the newness of life you now seek.

The congregation, represented by the sponsors, continues to monitor the progress in faith and newness of life, offering material and moral support and guidance as needed.

This rite of baptism has a meaning for the whole congregation, as the people of God in whose context and presence these sacramental rites take on living form, incarnating the grace of God in the middle of them, and bringing home to the congregation as well their role in the ongoing support of the newly baptized, as they continue to pursue and enact the vocation these vows represent.

This ritual provides an opportunity for the church to take responsibility for its growth and development as a welcoming, Christ-centered community, and to take pride in faith and fellowship, moving forward into a hopeful future, a future where the members of the church embody and enact the reign of a just and loving God in their relationships with each other and in their service to the community and the world, individually and together.

How then can these ‘third vows’ be made sufficiently explicit (and lavish) to engender a sense of meaning and responsibility in we who take them?

Conversion – the continuing turning, turning home which is the Christian life – means taking responsibility for an area of one’s own growth and development. This day’s work, this baptism, can yield new insight into the meaning of the baptismal covenant, not only for the person being baptized today but also indeed for the whole people here assembled.

This is the hidden opportunity of the ‘third vow’. There are plenty of charming examples of a celebrant chiding the people, ‘say it again, this time with feeling’, but beyond emotion and stage theatrics, what lasting change can be effected by taking this vow?

And what help and support and affirmation might the newly baptized expect to receive after the service is over?

The idea of sponsors or witnesses to baptism allows for some willing individuals to represent and model for the congregation the affirmation that all make together and the support that all undertake before God in solemn assembly to carry out.

The people of God have work to do, in praise and prayer and service, which we affirm and renew in this sacramental liturgy? Let’s put some ‘oomph’ into ‘we will’ – and vim into our vows, and power into our prayers. 

Will you pray for this child and her parents?

Will you make her - and all children - welcome in church?

Will you get to know the family and walk with them through good times and challenging times?

Will you participate in the education of this child - and all children - as Christians?

Will you who witness these vows do all in your
power to support these persons in their life in Christ?

And the People say      We will.


Easter Day * April 8, 2012


This sermon owes a lot to the Rev. Dr. Susan Marie Smith, who taught a course on worship at the San Francisco Theological Seminary in 2011. Some of the ideas come from a paper that I wrote for her class.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

taste of wine

Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Psalm 116:1, 10-17 

Once when I was looking for an apartment in Brooklyn a friend introduced me to her landlord. He showed me the apartment, above his own family’s apartment, and then we all gathered for tea. They handed me a chocolate – it had a symbol on it. You don’t have to eat it, they said. It had no sugar! It was special candy for a special day in the Jewish year.

What day does the taste of bread and wine bring back to us?

The feast of the Lord’s Supper – the Last Supper – that Jesus took with his friends – gathered in an upstairs room for Passover night. The bitter herbs they tasted, and the other flavors, reminded them as Jews of an earlier meal: as it was meant to. It reminded them that the people of Israel freed from bondage in Egypt were called out: into a period of seeking and formation in the desert, while they learned what it meant to be God’s people – before they could enter the land and possess it, the land of promise, they had to become the people of promise, the people of hope. They had to learn and to practice what it meant to live God’s love – to love God whole-heartedly body and soul first and foremost, and to love their neighbors as themselves. They had to become the people who love.

Jesus renews this understanding and adds to it in the gospel passage we’ve read tonight: love one another as I have loved you. That is how they will know who you are. That is how they will know you are God’s people.

How has he loved us? Totally and completely. He has given his life that we might live in God. He has held nothing back.

As Robert J. Allen asks,
            Whoever ran out of love
            by loving too much?

            The more love you give,
            the more love you receive, and
            the more love you have to share.

Christ gave himself away completely, out of love – love for a world he knew needed changing – and through love comes change. (Sue Yeaney)

He was not afraid of change,
he was unafraid of death,
he had hope for the future
and trust in God.

[If he feared anything ever it was that he would fail to receive, falter in his love or his giving; but he did not fail.] He accepted on his shoulders the weight of the cross that he bore for all.

Innocent victim, unqualified scapegoat, he brought to an end the idea you could tag another person with your guilt or sin or suffering. He took all that on himself and removed it from us.

On this dark night,
there is nothing left to fear
but fear itself.

There is one source left for hope,
there is only one source
                                    of life,
                                    of light,
                                    of love, —

and it is the one in whom we find salvation,
the one we remember tonight: Jesus Christ the Lord.


Remember Love

                                    Do not be afraid
                                                to Change
Change for Love’s sake
Remember what lasts is love.

O Christ, we live in a world filled with suffering and death, but you call us to follow you and serve you. May your abundant mercy open our eyes to new ways we can create hope and opportunity for hungry people. Amen

(Lenten Prayers for Hungry People, Bread for the World,


Perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)

God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also. (1 John 4:15-21)

Be a Constant Source of Change
by Robert J. Allen
(Camaldolese Tidings, Vol. 18, No. 1, Spring 2012, New Camaldoli Hermitage, Big Sur, California)

     Why do people fear change? Because, as human beings, we are too attached.
     There are many different fears: the fear of death, which is inevitable; the fear of success, which is to be who we are capable of being; and the fear of public speaking, which means we are willing to share openly ... but I propose that most people think they fear change and do not want to change because they fear success. Notice I have not said they do not want change, but that they do not want to change.
     Change comes in all walks of life. We do not start out this way, but we are taught first by our parents, by example, then our friends, by associates, and then by our own selfishness to keep what we think is ours, thus avoiding change, forcing us right back to the fear of change and not realizing we are attracted to false security.
     Jesus Christ taught us just the opposite in the way He lived; by the things He said, and most of all by His love. If we would make all of our judgments based on "love one another as I have loved you," we would not only accept change, we would change and be a constant source of change.
     Change should only be feared when it is selfish, when it is self-serving, and when it leads or prevents real change. You cannot fear change unless you lack the virtue of Hope.
     In order to understand who you are, you should begin with the principle that all we have is a gift from God. This being true, then the only thing to fear is the inability to give to others by sharing, by making sacrifices, by loving. And to do this, to do it in an accountable and opportunistic way, means giving of yourself without an expected reward. This means change. Whoever ran out of love by loving too much? The more love you give the more love you receive, and the more love you have to share. The unexpected rewards are immeasurable.
     Christ came to change the world and He did this by giving Himself away totally so that each person could change. We will be judged not by how much we have, but how much we gave away; both materially and through love.
     Do not fear change, but fear the false security, that being neither hot nor cold, will forever be your judge.

* * *

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Hosanna! Crucify!

Hosanna! Crucify!

Was the Palm parade foolish?

We are confronted with a number of choices among gospel readings for this Sunday. We begin (began) with the account of the procession of the palms, the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, at the beginning of the week for the Passover festival. Then in the Liturgy of the Passion we may read as much of the story as to begin with the woman in Bethany anointing Jesus with oil, through the account of the Last Supper, the sojourn in the Garden, Jesus’ betrayal, the Council’s interrogations, Peter’s denial, and on into the night. This morning we pick up the story at the very nub of it, the morning after the Last Supper, as Jesus is handed over to Pontius Pilate.

Hosanna! They cried, and Crucify! The words rang out. Sunday a friendly crowd, well-wishers, supporters, and disciples, hailed Jesus as King: Messiah, King-deliverer of the Jews from their foreign oppressors, as promised of old. But on Friday a different, surlier, uglier crowd gathers…

Pilate had caused this crowd scene, by his unique – and characteristically cruel – custom of releasing a prisoner at Passover. And he gave them, it appeared to them, a voice: Crucify! The one they called King of the Jews.

Once, twice, three and four and five times, Jesus is called King of the Jews in this brief passage. That is what the Romans call him. The priests call him Messiah, the King of Israel. So they know they’ve got the right man: the One who comes in the name of the Lord, the son of David.

As Jesus set out on the road up to Jerusalem, a blind beggar, Bartimaeus, had stopped him. Bartimaeus called to him, “Son of David! Have mercy on me.” It was a salutation for royalty: Son of David, Messiah, King. He is calling for you, the people said. Get up! Bartimaeus cast his cloak aside and came to Jesus.

Jesus restored his sight and Bartimaeus followed him on the way. Soon many people spread their cloaks before Jesus, in his path on the way into town. Many people hailed him as Messiah, Son of David, King.

But – was the whole palm procession a foolish mistake? Was it some kind of guerilla theater? Was Jesus to play the fool in his moment of apparent triumph? Had he done no more than at best tip off the authorities?

Surely he acted the fool, didn’t he? The holy fool, or the prophet? For he had got himself up like the long-awaited King, the one looked for – the deliverer of his people, the prince of peace, riding on a donkey, a colt – the peaceful anti-imperial savior.

This is what a prophet would do, a prophet like Jeremiah: act out what God was doing. It tended to make the ruling elite feel mocked, or made fools of.

All this was mockery of course, mockery and seditious satire, a parody of the one who was in charge, the man who already had got the world to proclaim him prince of peace: Caesar Augustus.

Across the Mediterranean and into the lands of ancient empires around it the hand of Augustus stretched. His rule was complete. There was no conflict. There was no dispute. He was King of Kings.

And here was this Galilean peasant riding into town on the foal of a donkey, playing the role of Israel’s deliverer, entering Jerusalem from the east, greeted by common folk, not the elite who could gather in the courtyard of the praetorium, the same week as tensions were at their height, the week Pilate always arrived with extra troops on guard for a sign of trouble. Into the city from the west came the cohorts, the legionaries of Rome: feared, disciplined, invincible; and in royal pomp, Herod, and in imperial purple, Pontius Pilate, the governor, entered too. It was not a good idea to make fun of such people.

And Jesus did more than that: he offended the Temple economy; he disturbed the equilibrium of its peace with Roman power. He upset the tables, drove the buyers and sellers away. Another prophetic act.

When General Allenby entered Jerusalem in 1917, victorious commander of Allied forces driving out the Turkish Empire, he refused to use his staff car. “I will not ride where Jesus walked,” he said.

Allenby understood. He grasped the humility and the majesty of Jesus as Holy One of Israel, the Son of God, went into Jerusalem to lay down his life for all.

Jesus, having entered in his own triumphant way, was a quiet visitor to the Temple that Sunday night. (It may seem like a letdown; nobody was there to make a fuss. Maybe he hadn’t disturbed the universe enough yet.) There was everything to see, like a tourist or a small-town pilgrim, or a Son returning to look around a house he could not yet claim as his own.

Jesus went quietly away, for the moment. His wrath when it came was more than the wrath of Ulysses, or Hercules, or Samson. He sized up the pillars before him – and did he tear them down? No – Romans did that. In 70 a.d. But in this moment Jesus was indeed triumphant – no clown – a quiet man, bringing a peaceable kingdom by peaceable, inexorable means.

His triumph was not a triumph of imperial power. It was a victory of peace, of life over death, not by force or by evasion, but by obedience, and suffering, and faithful, steadfast love, by hope beyond hope, by life beyond endurance, by peaceful means to bring peace.

Hosanna! The people shouted. Blessed be the King.

Hosanna! We cry. Jesus, live in our hearts – forever.

What does it mean to proclaim Jesus as Messiah? What does it mean to herald him as King, to shout Hosanna? What did it mean then? And what will it mean for us?

When Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he was taking prophetic action – staking God’s claim on the city. His actions proclaimed the coming of the reign of God.

By entering the city in the guise of the peaceful prince, he was making clear that the kingdom of Israel would be restored. It would be restored not by imperious force or violence, but it would begin in the way it meant to go on.

His rule, his victory, his triumph, would come, but not as the result of the slaughter of innocents – other than himself.

For he offered himself, in obedience to his Father, in testimony to the truth: that God reigns. And the reign of God begins in all humility and servant-hood. Jesus came into town, both humble and triumphant. In the week that followed, the week that we are coming to celebrate and remember now, he would bring home his message.

There was a call to obedience, not coercive but pastoral. Come to me, all you who are heavily burdened. Come to me, all you who are down trodden. Come to me, oppressed and poor; come to me, sick and hungry; come to me, and I will give you peace.

How then are we to welcome Jesus? He seeks to enter our lives, our hearts, as he once entered the city of Jerusalem. He comes to us, to make our hearts the home of peace. How will we respond? How will we answer? Will we, like the crowd on Palm Sunday, respond with joy? Hosanna!

Will we welcome him, not only with voice and wavy palm, but our actions, our lives, and our way of being in the world? Will we be open-handed and generous, openhearted and truthful, open-spirited and ready to receive him, in those we love and in those we do not know?

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Jesus, live in our hearts – forever.

Almighty and ever-living God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. Amen.