On Palm Sunday, a portion of Psalm 118 is read during worship. For all that God has done in the past, all that God is doing in the present, and all that God will do in the future, the psalmist gives thanks and praise!
It’s very possible that in Jesus’ final Passover celebration with his followers, they sang this psalm in accordance with Jewish tradition. They joined their voices to history’s choir to lift up God’s faithfulness in the past and their confidence in God’s help in the future.
On Palm Sunday, we hear the crowds echo the words of the psalmist: “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” (Ps. 118:26; Mark 11:9-10). And we hear also Jesus echoing this same psalm, reminding the people that the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone (Ps. 118:22, Mark 12:10). The triumphal procession with palms spread across the road eventually leads to another road, a road of suffering.
God’s enduring love is revealed in the life and death of Jesus, who is the Passover lamb for us in our journey toward freedom. The Christian faith is a “way of life” more than a belief system. Christ initiates a new community in which all are welcome and transformed by grace!
Gary Wilburn says the Christian life is …
“a way of being human in an inhumane world,
of living in love not hate,
of faith not fear,
of hope not despair,
of forgiveness not revenge”
[The God I Don’t Believe In (Stamford, CT: Progressive Pub, 2008), 70].
So we gather in worship, and with the psalmist we say, “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!”
Here is a Jewish Passover Prayer that expresses beautifully our thanksgiving to God:
Even if our mouths were filled with songs like the sea, our tongues with joy like its mighty waves, our lips with praise like the breadth of the sky, if our eyes shone like the sun and the moon, and our hands were spread out like the eagles of heaven, if our feet were as swift as the hind, we should still be incapable of thanking you adequately for one thousandth of all the love you have shown us. Amen.
Words (c) 2012, Mark Lloyd Richardson
Photos (c) 2012, Dallis Day Richardson
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