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Epiphany 6 | Ordinary Time 6, Cycle B

“Lord God, mercifully receive the prayers of your people. Help us to see and understand the things we ought to do, and give us grace and power to do them; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
It is in the portions of The Prayer of the Day for this Sunday that are italicized above that we see the unifying factor in the four texts selected for this day. Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Syria, needed help from the Lord God through Naaman’s own servants before he could understand the things that he should do in the cleansing of his body from leprosy in the 2 Kings 5:1-14 Elisha story.

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  • SermonSuite Special
     
    SermonSuite
    Chris Keating
    Dean Feldmeyer
    Treading the Crimson Trail / No One Gets Out Alive

    This week we’re offering a pair of main articles -- one focusing on a Palm Sunday theme, and the other keyed to the Passion narrative (which can also be used for Maundy Thursday and/or Good Friday). In his Palm Sunday piece, team member Chris Keating compares Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem to the lavish reception celebrities get on the red carpet or political dignitaries receive when they arrive in foreign capitals. But while we might secretly wish that we had that sort of cachet, we are often reminded that a typical byproduct of such treatment is an inflated sense of self-importance. Yet as Chris points out, Jesus is able to stay grounded and ignore the adulation of the crowd -- which he knows is the proverbial mile wide and inch deep. Of course, we know that in a matter of days those who now hail him will turn on him. So in the midst of celebration, Jesus offers us a bracing lesson in the value of humility -- and in the fleeting nature of the world’s plaudits. Even so, we still lust after the approval of others and the perks of worldly success. Chris suggests that we ought to ask ourselves: Can we, like Jesus, remain focused on the cross -- or will we be seduced by the roaring approval of a fickle fanbase?
         In his meditation on the Passion text, team member Dean Feldmeyer considers the manner in which Jesus approaches his impending death. Mark’s gospel reports that Jesus is burdened with many of the same anxieties and concerns that many of us have about our mortality, noting that when he went to Gethsemane with Peter and James and John, “he began to be distressed and agitated.... [H]e threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.” But having accepted the burden of his Father’s will....more
    Passion/Palm Sunday
    As is well known, the text forms the third of the four Servant Songs that are found in the prophecies of Second Isaiah. Some scholars have maintained that the songs are later additions to the material, but rhetorical analysis has revealed that the songs are an integral and indispensable part of Second Isaiah's message. The whole, made up of Isaiah 40--55, was delivered to the Israelite exiles in Babylonia, sometime between 550 and 538 B.C. ...more
    Frank Ramirez
    The well-traveled path of suffering
    As I write this there have been some high-profile incidents in which Christians have been martyred for their faith on a wholesale basis. Because our collective memories are short, people need to be reminded that this is nothing new. Christians have been martyred for their faith from the beginning. If you are not familiar with The Martyrdom of Polycarp, the story of the seven brothers and their mothers in 2 Maccabees 7, or books like The Martyr’s Mirror (or if your congregation is not familiar with these), it might be well to incorporate a few stories at the least. Your denomination or congregation may have a special connection to suffering people in the past or present (for instance, the young women abducted in Nigeria by Boko Haram were almost all members of my denomination), and Holy Week is an appropriate time to remember these. Little purpose is served by demonizing their murderers. Christian history would show that most martyred Christians have been murdered by fellow Christians. The point is that the road of self-sacrificial love pioneered by Jesus has been well trod in all ages, including our own....more
    C. David McKirachan
    They all forsook him...
    Mark 14:1-15:47

    This whole season is about the faithfulness of our Lord. And it’s about our lack of it. The woman who anointed him was judged by our hard heartedness. We’re cheap. She was grateful. He lived by the spirit of God’s law. The Pharisees used the letter of the law to forsake God’s invitation to be a light to the nations. We squabble about inclusiveness using the label ‘Christian’ to mean our unwillingness to go in any direction that makes us uncomfortable, ignoring our Lord’s radical nature. He wept over Jerusalem, while we salute the flag of our nationalism. He offered his body and blood as a rock, a reminder of the cost of God’s grace and redemption. We run around in circles, not having the time to pray, study, and preach his good news....more
    Janice Scott
    He emptied himself...
    The postman regularly delivers a lot of junk mail to our house, but thoughtfully bundles it together with a rubber band. This means that we gain several thick, strong rubber bands each week. For some unknown and obscure reason, I hate to throw these rubber bands away, so I pack them into a little plastic bank envelope and throw them in a drawer, knowing they'll come in useful one day. When the little plastic envelope is full, I find myself stretching the rubber bands around anything that comes to hand, such as a jam jar....more
    Cynthia Cowen
    Our Hosannas became Alleluias
    The Point: Jesus knows our need for a Savior and answers our need with his life.

    The Lesson: Good morning, boys and girls. Thank you for joining me as we share the story of Jesus. I brought with me a special banner. It has a Hebrew word on it: "Hosanna." The Jewish people were about to celebrate God delivering his people from slavery in Egypt....more

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

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