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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
     
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    Dean Feldmeyer
    Authority and Power
    Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28

    An old adage warns leaders that “authority is like soap -- the more you use it, the less you have.” Effective leaders use their authority only as a last resort. They know that productive planning more often comes through building consensus and group ownership. People want to be led, but not pushed or forced.
         History and literature teach this lesson over and over. Julius Caesar, King Lear, Chairman Mao, Richard Nixon, Captain Kirk, Pontius Pilate, John XXIII, and Superman all come to us as figures who struggled to find a balance between authority and power -- some more successfully than others. And we struggle with it still.
         As our president and the congress jockey for position, thrusting and parrying in their ongoing legislative duels, they both want to claim the authority that gives power. The president points to the successes he has managed to achieve in spite of an obstructive congress, as well as to the recent rise in his approval rating to 50 percent. He claims that these accomplishments give him the necessary authority to move forward with his agenda. The Republicans in congress counter with their victories in the midterm elections, and claim that the voters have given them the authority to block the president’s agenda and move forward with their own.
         Each side is claiming authority and trying to exercise the power which they claim is concomitant with it. Who is right? Whose authority is genuine and how much power flows rightly from it?
         This week’s lectionary readings point us toward the only kind of authority that matters to the people of God -- and that is the authority that flows from God and God’s words....more
    Setting: Corinth, Greece, 55 AD
    The conversation paused as the slave, Rhoes, poured wine for the host and his reclining guests. In the silence, a ripple of wind from the Saronic Gulf stirred above their evening meal. One man began to talk but stopped. Another man coughed. A third man ran his fingers through his hair. The presence of Rhoes, the slave, made them uneasy. The nine had been hotly arguing as a group. They now began to chat among themselves in twos and threes. Two guests nodded to the slave and one even said, "Thank you, Rhoes." Although few looked directly at him, the slave, Rhoes, was the center of attention....more
    Wayne Brouwer
    Prophet
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    Sandra Herrmann
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    Psalm 111

    "Go ahead and ask her! There’ll never be a better time -- she's alone. Quick, before the rest of her gang gets here!"
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    Janice Scott
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    Cynthia Cowen
    Live Life with Power
    The Point: Jesus brought authority and power to God's word.
    The Lesson: Good morning boys and girls. Thank you for sharing this time with me.
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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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