Sunday, April 5 at 10:00 am
If you can join the live service, please do. We will all be joined together in prayers and in support of each other, our community, our church and the world.
Virtual Coffee Hour on Sunday following the service
Feeling isolated? Going stir crazy? Eager to catch up with friends? Join other OSLC folks after our 10:00 am Sunday virtual worship service.
There are 2 ways to join:
- After the service from your computer or smart phone:
click here to join the Virtual Coffee Hour
You’ll need to enter this Meeting ID: 732 534 989, which will put you into the conversation.
We are using an online platform called Zoom. It will give you a chance to test your camera and microphone, and then put you in a “waiting room” for a few seconds before you join the party. You do not have to have a Zoom account to attend a Zoom meeting or interview. You will be prompted to download the software, once you have clicked on the link that you have been provided. You may also wish to create an account, but that is not required to participate in a Zoom meeting.
– OR –
- You can simply call in from any phone. Call +1 301 715 8592 and enter the same Meeting ID: 732 534 989
Suffering Together Today; Thriving Together Forever
Sermon for Palm Sunday, Year A; April 5, 2020
Zechariah 9:9-12; Psalm 118:22-29; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 21:1-11
Our Saviour Lutheran Church of Warrenton, Virginia; The Reverend Terri Luper Church
How do you have a parade without any people?
What a strange day it is to be church! When we talk about the high points in a church year, we always include Palm Sunday. It’s a big deal! In one of the many Zoom video chats I’ve had this week (anyone else “Zoomed out”? Hang in there! We’ll be together again!). Anyway, in one video chat, a member tried to count how many years it had been since the last time they had not been in church for this amazing week—about 40 years! I’m sure many of you have similar feelings of disbelief about NOT being here at Our Saviour, or in whatever church you’re supposed to be in today. It’s what we do! We come together! Even the littlest churches would get their biggest crowds today and of course, next Sunday, the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord—Easter!
And yet, here we are in an empty church, wishing you were here. It’s a time of longing, of pain, of loss, of grief. It feels like exile. How do you have parade without a crowd? You don’t. And it is foolish to pretend it doesn’t hurt. We want to be together, perhaps now more than ever! None of us have the exact same hurts today, but we all suffer in some way. Some of us are in physical pain, unable to get the help we need, waiting for a cure, or just the word that it is safe to go to the doctor. Some are dying, made worse by not being able to have loved ones at our side to say goodbye. Some suffer from deep anxiety, fear, depression, panic attacks, and the feelings of deep, deep loneliness. Some will suffer at the hands of those who are supposed to love and protect us. Some of us are suffering intense financial loss without a clear solution in sight. Some of us are just sick and tired of online meetings and learning all these new lessons and being on top of each other at home, unable to escape to our offices, classrooms, and friends. Yes, each in our own way is suffering, and this church suffers with our communities—separated when we want so much to be together.
And that is when the miracle of God’s math steps in. We may be forced to stay apart, but in our suffering, we are together! Now more than ever are we aware that the Holy Spirit is at work among us uniting us across our differences, across our pain, across our separation. We in the church talk about the great cloud of witnesses, and maybe we imagine angels with wings in white robes on fluffy clouds. But my friends, THIS is what that cloud of witnesses is about! Sure, sure, we know that Jesus conquered death to unite us in eternal life, (said with that “of course” voice of those who have heard that eternal story but can’t see how it fits our lives today). However, we also know that we can claim that promise right now! The life we have in Jesus started a long time ago and is here with us now. Our connections to each other started at Baptism and continue to grow!
We may miss our parades and Easter egg hunts. We may miss singing in a full church. We miss crying together and being able to receive a hug from a friend. But we are not alone in that loss. We are church together, now more than ever, through the power of Jesus Christ alive among us. We are suffering together today, and so we are thriving together forever!
So, how can we claim that unity, that help, that crowd of fellow followers of Jesus today? One way is to share our ideas on getting through. “Ms. Yvonne,” our Sunday School Director, has been posting lessons on our Facebook page for you to do at home with your families, like this Palm Sunday Leaf Prayer sheet. And look for the Easter Egg scavenger hunt and other games ideas I’ll post this week. And we share our ideas with each other. I’ve heard from some parents how they are solving the problems of working from home with kids around, like having grandmother do a video call each evening to read stories to the children so the parents have a few moment of time just for them. Got any good ideas to help others out now? “Check in” at Our Saviour Warrenton on Facebook and share them. We are church together!
Of course, we have these services to post, and we truly enjoy being able to watch “together” even when we are apart. (I love it when you post your responses to the prayers and greetings!) Thank you to the techies who are making it happen!
Our new Phone Tree is another way we are connected while apart. If you need us, we want to help. Our food closet is still available to the community, your offerings by mail or online are still helping us meet needs in the church and community, we are making masks to help fill that needed gap, and we are together in our prayers.
Yes, this is a truly challenging time in our lives, and yet, it is also a time we are prepared for. Seriously! We are! Not only have we learned how to lean on each other at all times and in all ways, but we also know how to put our pain at the foot of cross and let Jesus carry it. When the crowds that first Palm Sunday waved their palms and put their coats on the ground at Jesus’s feet, they shouted “Hosanna” which means, “Save Us!” Perhaps they meant it like the great military parades they remembered in the past. Perhaps they were hoping Jesus would save them from their political oppression and physical pain. However, if so, they were about to be very disappointed when their new king died as a criminal on a cross a few days hence on Good Friday. But we know the truth:
Jesus does not promise to save us from pain. Jesus promises to save us through pain.
As we just heard in that reading from Philippians, “Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, … humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:5, 8) Jesus saved us from death through his own suffering and death. Jesus helps us grow through our suffering to trust him and each other more. And, Jesus saves us from separation by our spiritual connections to God and to each other, no matter what we face.
I began by asking how you have a parade without any people, but that was the wrong question. We have plenty of people—the whole church of Jesus Christ across thousands of years, the great cloud of witnesses, and all of us not gathered physically today—and that is all we need.
We are church together, through the power of Love in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Liturgical material © 2017 Augsburg Fortress; used by permission of Augsburg Fortress, #SAS009239. Copyright Acknowledgments (CCLI License # 2800659 and One License # 710443-A) for print and broadcast.