Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Matthew 21: 1-11
(Christ’s Triumphal Entry)
Isaiah 50: 4-9
Psalm 31: 9-16
Philippians 2: 5-11
Matthew 26: 14 – 27:66
A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road,
and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
As we receive guidance from our government leaders to avoid being in crowds— usually defined as ten or more people— I wonder how God would want us to respond if Jesus came down our street today.
I see so much of our faith through the lens of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25, where he informs us that what we do to “the least of these” sisters and brothers of Jesus, we do to Jesus himself. So in that light, we look down our street to see who is coming, and we ask ourselves, “Given the current situation, how should I treat these brothers and sisters here ?”
Probably, we don’t need to form a crowd to serve Jesus. We may not even need to shout out archaic words like “Hosanna!” to please the Lord. But there will be good things we can do to be a blessing to Jesus and his siblings.
By the way, “Hosanna!” is what people would shout out to leaders who they hoped were coming to rescue them and make things better— it means something like, “O save us!” So I bet the same thought is a part of your prayers, as we live through these strange, challenging times....
Lord, save us!
During our current crisis, some of our neighbors have lost their livelihoods, while other people keep getting the same, fixed incomes. Some among us are running up extra expenses or running out of necessities, while others of us find we are now able to get by with less expenditure, or we may now have a surplus of stuff that we would ordinarily use up quickly. Perhaps during ‘normal’ times we mostly saw ourselves as helpers, but now we need more help— or vice-versa. So we are in new territory, encountering people and events in ways we never did before.
If we were going through the springtime in the usual way at church, for the past three weeks you would have been hearing about the One Great Hour of Sharing (“OGHS”) special offering.
As I noted above, for some of you, this may not be the time to be giving to national and international ministries, but for some of you, this might be the perfect time to do something to make a difference, while so many things seem so “out of control.”
“The OGHS special mission offering of the United Church of Christ involves you in disaster, refugee/immigration, and development ministries throughout the world. When a disaster strikes or people are displaced or made refugees by violence or extreme poverty, you are part of the immediate response and of the long-term recovery. Through OGHS you engage in holistic development programs including health care, education, agriculture, food sustainability, micro-financing and women’s empowerment. Because the UCC relates in mutual partnership to churches and organizations through Global Ministries and worldwide response & recovery networks, your contributions to One Great Hour of Sharing put you in the right place at the right time for the relief, accompaniment and recovery of the most vulnerable. You meet immediate needs and you address the underlying causes that create those needs in the first place. Thank you for your generous contribution.”
Here are two links to videos that explain OGHS:
You may donate to OGHS by sending your offering to our Financial Secretary Dianne, simply marking it “OGHS.”
Meanwhile, right here in the Shenandoah Valley, Page One and Elkton Area United Services (EAUS) are struggling onward, trying their best to serve people who need a hand up. You may not have realized this, but those thrift stores— in Elkton, Shenandoah, and Luray— have been the biggest source of revenue for our home-grown social service agencies. And those thrift stores are closed now. So, if you feel led to make a difference on the local level, Page One (35 North Bank Street, Luray, VA 22835) and EAUS (PO Box 383, Elkton, VA 22827) will be grateful for your help.
Volunteers are still needed, too ! “Blessed is ....”