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Monday of Holy Week

John 12:1-11

Monday of Holy Week is introduced with this account that is only in the Fourth Gospel, about an anointing of the feet of Jesus by Mary, the sister of Martha and of Lazarus, whom Jesus, according to John 11:1-44, had resurrected from the dead. The account makes a major contribution to the plot of the Fourth Gospel, with Jesus speaking in support of what Mary was doing and in opposition to Judas Iscariot, who was complaining about the pouring of the expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus when the perfume could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. The statement of the Johannine Jesus that “you are always going to have poor people with you whom you can help, but you are not always going to have me” presents the greatest challenge for us even today. It raises fundamental questions about how the financial resources of a congregation should be allocated.

Hebrews 9:11-15

The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews presents Jesus in a way that is very different from the ways in which Jesus is depicted elsewhere in our New Testament documents. Within each of the Four Gospels Jesus is opposed by the priests who manage the Temple under contracts purchased from the Romans; he is certainly not presented as the honored priest entering into the Holiest Place in the Temple to offer his own blood to God. This very different way in which Jesus was portrayed by the writer of this document was a major reason that the Epistle to the Hebrews was one of the last documents to be accepted into the New Testament canon.

Isaiah 42:1-9

By using this “Servant of the Lord” text, as it is designated by Christians, on the Monday of Holy Week, we are identifying the Servant of the Isaiah traditions with Jesus as we as Christians perceive him. That identification, of course, does not give ownership of the Servant concept to us as Christians. The Servant of the Lord still primarily belongs to the Jews, not to us as Christians. The statements in this text about God putting the Spirit of God upon the Servant in order that the Servant may establish justice on the earth in a sense unites Christians with Jews, since, when we are at our best, we as Christians, together with Jews, long for justice and work together to “repair” the world and to be righteous and just in all that we and Jews do.

Psalm 36:5-11

Here also, when we as Christians use this psalm, or any of the psalms, or any portion of the Older Testament for that matter, ideally we use these materials together with Jews, as devotional guides along with Jews, even during our so-called Holy Week. Although our experiences and our understandings of the intended meanings of the texts in the Older Testament are different from those of Jews, we must remember that these were Israelite and Jewish documents before we began to use them and that they remain basically Jewish documents today.

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  • SermonSuite Special
     
    SermonSuite
    Leah Lonsbury
    For All the Saints
    Matthew 5:1-12; Matthew 23:1-12

    Many of us will be celebrating All Saints Day this Sunday, pausing to honor the lives of the members of our congregations who have died in the past year. But what is it exactly about a person that makes them a saint? William W. How gives us some ideas in his famous hymn “For All the Saints.” Saints, according to How, are those who profess their faith before the world; bless the name of Jesus; find shelter in God; look to the Lord in their faithful, bold, and “well-fought fight”; win the victor’s crown; and shine in glory.
         Those sound like some pretty tough standards to live up to, right?
         What if our saint standards weren’t based on the Platonic ideal of perfection but looked more to our scriptures for guidance? What does Jesus say about what makes one great? Who will be exalted in the kin-dom Jesus is creating? Who will be qualified to be called blessed and known as saints? Who will be rewarded with God’s mercy and called children of God?
         It’s not who we might think.
         Join us this week as we uncover some hidden and perhaps surprising saints whose work often goes unseen, unappreciated, and unrewarded. Just as Jesus warned his followers it would, this saintly work brings with it persecution and great personal risk. This All Saints Day we should all be paying attention, because despite our flaws and imperfections, God through grace is busy making us this kind of saint as well.
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         Sometimes the question gets asked more directly. An Islamic family moves in down the street, and their children ask your children what they believe. You become friends with a Buddhist coworker, and find yourself deeply impressed with the quality of his or her life, and wondering if that is available in your own tradition. The local Jehovah's Witness buttonholes you and you wish you could put into words what it is you believe....more
    Ron Love
    White grave markers -- white robes
    The Arlington House was a mansion built as a living memorial to George Washington by the first president's adopted grandson. The estate was built on a 1,100-acre tract of land across the Potomac River from Washington DC. Decades later a distant cousin, Robert E. Lee, became the resident of the home. Between 1841 and 1857, Lee was away from Arlington House for several extended periods while serving in the Mexican War and then as superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, his alma mater. In 1857 Lee returned to Arlington to join his family and to serve as executor of the estate. Robert E. Lee and his wife, Mary Anna, lived at Arlington House until 1861, when Virginia ratified an alliance with the Confederacy and seceded from the Union. Lee, who had been named a major general for the Virginia military forces in April 1861, feared for his wife's safety and anticipated the loss of their family inheritance, so he moved to a new residence. Following the ratification of secession by Virginia, federal troops crossed the Potomac and took up positions around Arlington. Following the occupation, military installations were erected. In punishment for his allegiance to the South, the land was then made into a cemetery so Robert E. Lee would never be able to claim the Arlington House as a residency again. The Arlington National Cemetery was established on June 15, 1864....more
    John Fitzgerald
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    Revelation 7:9-17

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    Janice Scott
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    Cynthia Cowen
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Author of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen

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