April 4th, 2020 Daily Devotional

Today's scripture passage is a traditional one for Palm Sunday. It is from Psalm 118: "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord....You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you. O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever."


I needed to read those words this morning, and also the words of the

reflection in our devotional booklet written by Neema Cyrus-Franklin, who

says:

"When I was a child, the elders in my home congregation would recite

Psalm 118 seemingly every Sunday. As a 'preacher's kid,' I often overheard

the hardships faced by those in our church as my parents prayed on their

behalf. There were countless struggles and challenges: untreated mental

illnesses, homelessness after losing a job, discrimination at school and the

workplace, wrongful incarcerations and years of legal bills, to name a few. I

knew those in the congregation were living through a nightmare and I

couldn't understand why or how they could extol the words of the psalmist

amid such seemingly insurmountable odds. Years later, I understood this

lesson from my youth. At times, our world seems to spin out of our control;

out of our ability to will a favorable outcome. When I found myself in difficult

circumstances as an adult, I reflected on the lessons from my childhood. I

remembered that during these moments, I didn't have to suffer in silence.

During the prayers of the people, I gave my worries and my situation over

to God. We stood together, cried together and praised together the God

who created us to be more than conquerors. Life's difficult circumstances

provided for me and my congregation an invitation to meet with God front

and center--together. It was an invitation not to journey alone, an invitation

to an ongoing, dynamic experience of humanity connecting with God, an

invitation to the beloved community."

Wow. Hear those words from Rev. Cyrus-Franklin again. An invitation to

meet with God front and center--together. An invitation not to journey alone.

An invitation to an ongoing, dynamic experience of humanity connecting

with God. An invitation to the beloved community. Even when the world

seems to spin out of our control.

Dearest SPC friends, I am so very grateful for all of you, and the way you

all are an ongoing, dynamic experience of invitation to connect with God--

especially in this time.

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. It has always been my favorite Sunday in the

church year. Theologically, of course, Easter and Good Friday and

Christmas and Pentecost are at the center of everything I believe. But I

love the way Palm Sunday is both joyful and defiant. I love the way it

announces who Jesus is with the waving of palms and children processing

and shouts of Hosanna--and also how it's a reminder that our Savior is one

who embodies truth and justice against power and empire, and who speaks

for the poor and forgotten. I love how Palm Sunday invites us into the

journey of Holy Week--that it requires us to encounter the whole story, with

all the pain and sorrow and confession--and yet still insists that we are an

Easter people who live in the "already" of that good news. I love that Palm

Sunday demands us to confront the hard truth of who we would have been

in the story--and still says that even we, just as we are, can prepare the

way of the Lord.

Friends, tomorrow, as we worship, I will be filled with gratitude knowing that

we are, indeed, together--building the beloved community joyfully and

defiantly. That none of us journeys alone. And that we meet with God front

and center through it all.

O give thanks to the Lord, for God is good, for God's steadfast love

endures forever. Hosanna!

Let us pray, using Rev. Cyrus-Franklin's prayer for us on this Fifth Saturday

in Lent:

"Dear Lord, there are times when I feel so alone and troubled. Light my

path and guide my feet, so that I may come to know and experience your

loving grace through your beloved community. Amen."

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