Today is a strange day.
Today marks the beginning of Holy Week, the sacred time in the life of the Church where we recall and enter into again the part of the story which is truly at the heart of our faith: the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and His resurrection from the dead for the sake of God's world. Specifically, today is Palm Sunday & Passion Sunday, where the Church remembers our Lord's joyful reception into Jerusalem, only to have those same voices turn violent; rejecting and condemning Him to death only a few days later. It is a strange day, where the tensions and expectations in the Gospels begin to come to a head, leading us on to the climax of God's strange and world-changing love story: rescuing His broken world by being broken for it Himself on a cross. It is a strange, wonderful story we are a part of, after all.
But we especially feel the strangeness of today because we are unable to gather together. We are unable to retell this story as the people of God gathered, and this painful reality strikes us, and should strike us, as a deep loss... to be acknowledged and grieved. Yes, there are ways we continue to worship, even as we are apart, and we know that Jesus is with us even now, and that we are still united together through the Holy Spirit... yet our inability to be together in person at this sacred time adds an element of strangeness that we cannot ignore.
Yet as the world around us has changed... as everything we have known has begun to suddenly feel strange to us... let us remember this week the Holy Story that remains at the heart of our existence. Let us mark the sacred time of Holy Week in this strange new time we are facing, with a sense of loss and feeling out of place, but also in anticipation of our future joyful reunion together. For it is my intention that at St. Luke's Gondola Point, we will celebrate Holy Week again as a Parish as soon as we are able to gather together in person in our Church.
This week, our Diocese will be making available several online reflections, resources and opportunities to worship and celebrate Holy Week, and I would encourage you to make use of them as best you can. I will also be posting some resources here throughout the week as well.
For today, our Order of Service for Palm Sunday & Passion Sunday has no sermon, but instead it has much more Scripture to be heard than on a typical Sunday. The first Gospel reading will recount Christ's arrival in Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11), and the second Gospel reading tells in full Matthew's account of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:14-27:66). I have included here both the text of the Gospel (NRSV), as well as an audio recording (found below) of the Gospel being read by me. This week's bulletin can also be found here. As we listen closely to God's word to us this morning, may we be reminded that despite all of our uncertainty, and loss, and longing, we find our faith and hope renewed and grounded in this strange and wonderful and world-changing story of God's self-giving love.
May the Holy Spirit give us ears to hear his word to us today.
Many blessings in Christ,
The Gospel of Matthew 26:14-27:66 Audio Recording
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Rev. Rob serves as the Priest-in-Charge at St. Luke's Gondola Point, and as the School Chaplain at Rothesay Netherwood School