Kruiz edited
Bloodied Palms
Tuesday of Holy Week
11 April 2017
On Palm Sunday, we gathered before the entry of our church to acclaim our Lord Jesus, who came to rescue His people through His enthronement on the cross. Coptic Christians in Egypt did likewise, like us, waving Palms and singing "Hail, Hosanna!" to the King. They had settled into their church for the service when suddenly there was a deadly explosion. Pews were torn apart, human lives destroyed, families sundered, and many were left wounded by the cowardly attack. The Wall Street Journal reported that "The blast killed 29 people and wounded another 69....Footage aired on state television showed bloodstains on the floor of the church, shattered furniture and bloodied palm fronds as victims and survivors wailed in shock and grief." (WSJ, 10  April 2017).

The image of bloodied palm fronds tells us a true story of human wickedness and persecution, but also the ultimate meaning of Holy Week. The victory of Christ is the victory of the cross. And just as He suffered horrendous violence at the hands of His enemies, so the church too is set to suffer at the hands of Christ's enemies. Doesn't our Lord encourage us to suffer? "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Mt 5:10-12).

Yet, how powerful those enemies seem; especially today! They can tear apart our lives, our communities, and our churches. But for us Christians they do not hold ultimate authority. Jesus Himself tells us that they do not have ultimate power over us. He says, "Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Mt 10:28). Only God has ultimate power over us, no matter how hard our enemies try. Ultimately they will fail. God will see to that. He is powerful enough; especially in the midst of His weakness.

We should also remember that the Lord will permit our suffering, not only unto His glory (Jn 9:3), but also to shape us like Christ in His suffering. If such things happen to the Master, what will happen to His students? The cruciform shape is the shape of everyone who has been baptized into the death of Christ. Because it is His glory, it is also ours. The King came on Palm Sunday not to reign as a powerful overlord, but to give Himself unto death. In a deep mystery, bloodied palms are just the thing for us and for our Lord.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Leo the Great
"As the multitudes went with Jesus to the place of punishment, a certain Simon of Cyrene was found on whom to lay the wood of the cross instead of the Lord (Mt 27:32); that this act might foreshadow the Gentiles' faith, to whom the cross of Christ was to be not shame but glory. It was not accidental, therefore, that while the Jews were raging against Christ, a foreigner was found to share His sufferings, as the Apostle says, 'if we endure with Him, we shall also reign with Him' (2Ti 2:12); No Hebrew, but a stranger, was substituted for the Savior in His most holy degradation. For by this transference the propitiation of the spotless Lamb and the fulfillment of all mysteries passed from the circumcision to the uncircumcision, from the sons according to the flesh to the sons according to the spirit: since the Apostle says, 'For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed' (1Co 5:7). He offered Himself to the Father as a new and true sacrifice of reconciliation, was crucified not in the temple, whose worship was now at an end, and not within the confines of the city which for its sin was doomed to be destroyed, but outside, 'outside the camp' (Heb 13:11-13), that, at the end of the old symbolic victims, a new Victim might be placed on a new altar, and the cross of Christ might be the altar not of the temple, but of the world." 

Leo the Great, Sermons, 59.5
2 Timothy 2:8-13

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful-for he cannot deny himself. (ESV)
Collect for Monday in Holy Week
Almighty and everlasting God, grant us by Your grace so to pass through this holy time of our Lord's passion that we may obtain the forgiveness of our sins; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

For Delores Tejeda, that the Lord Jesus would grant her a full recovery of health

For all pastors and church musicians as they lead God's people to the cross and tomb this week, that they may be strengthened in body and soul

For Kirstyn Harvey, that her Lord would grant her strength and healing
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Isenheim Altarpiece (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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