April 12, 2020

Sermon – Palm Sunday 2020

Pastoral Message
V. Rev. Timothy Baclig, Pastor
Palm Sunday - April 19, 2020

Beloved in Christ,

Our celebration on Palm Sunday actually begins with the miracle of Christ
raising of Lazarus from the dead commemorating this coming Saturday, April 11.
The Gospel lesson of “Lazarus Saturday” prepares us for the glorious entry of
Christ into the City of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (April 12).

Similarly, our celebration of Easter begins with Great and Holy Friday.
However, the service that is often well attended on Holy Friday is not “the end of
the story.” Just as the joy of Palm Sunday begins with the raising of Lazarus from
the dead, so it is with Christ’s Holy Resurrection. We begin on Great and Holy
Friday with the sadness of what seems a great tragedy, but our worship concludes
with the triumphant victory of Christ’s glorious Resurrection. There is no joy
without suffering. And there is no resurrection without death.

During Great and Holy Week, the Divine Grace of God and His merciful
forgiveness is showered upon us on Holy Wednesday with the Sacrament of Holy
Unction for the healing of soul and body. And while the circumstances of this
year’s health crisis begs for our need for being anointed with the Holy Oil, we are
unable to anoint everyone this year and will do so at a later date.

Moreover, the twelve Gospel lessons of Holy Week on Thursday, begins
with the Lord demonstrating for us what being a servant means with His washing
the feet of the disciples. This occurs just before He offers Himself to us as the
bread and wine at The Last Supper, when He said, “His Body … and this is my
Blood…, for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:26-28). Thus, we see how each
of our services of Holy Week are a part of a whole and complete message.

All who gathered between the little town of Bethany, the home of Lazarus,
and began crowding the streets as Jesus made His way to the City of Jerusalem; all
who brought boughs of palms and branches of olives were shouted “Hosanna!”
while waving them. It is a word that means; "Save us, I pray, save now!" There
was a desperation in the cry from their hearts on that day; perhaps as some today
cry out in desperation. They were in great need for a deliverer; a Savior. This
exclamation is like the petition we often hear within our Liturgy over and over
again: Help us! Save us! Have mercy on us! And keep us, O God, by Thy grace!

The shouts of "Hosanna" from the people in Jesus’ day continued with the
phrase: "Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord, the King of Israel!"
They were anticipating the coming of the Messiah (The "Anointed One"). They
had a great expectation in finding Him. However, the full context of the
prophesies of the Covenant (Old Testament) were not yet fully realized: This all
took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet [Zechariah 9:9]: "Say to
the daughter of Zion, 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'" And who would think of a King arriving on a
donkey? Who ever thought that this King would’ve been born in a cave amidst
animals? Who would’ve imagined this King washing the feet of His Disciples?

"Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!" It is also your and my
exclamation. It begins with "Hosanna" (a cry for help, to be saved - you and me
today!), but it continues with the acknowledgment that He has come, that He is
present, and that He is to come! We can be certain of His love. We can be certain
of His presence. It is a steadfast and unconditional love - unlike any other. He
promised to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 3:5). So for you and I who have
been baptized and illumined, we shout for joy: "Blessed is He who comes in the
Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" (Matthew 21:1-9).

Our parents, grandparents, and even our godparents have paved the way
with great sacrifices. We are who we are, because of who they were. Their
prayers for us continue! Our salvation is just as important as it was to them. It is
most important to God! Be sure that it is also important to you and your children.
There is no better time to be connected than during Holy Week when we together
revisit: the full and complete message of the Gospel. Holy Week is only
beginning... it's not too late! Plan time to be present with us (though “virtually”)
for our live-streaming services of Holy Week beginning this Saturday.

God wants us to be connected. He so desired a connection to us that He
was born of human flesh! He desired to be so connected to us that He not only
became one of us, He accepted becoming a mockery, bearing all of our sins, in
order to save us. He accepted becoming a curse; was even spat upon. Why?
Because no one else could turn the tables on evil. It is only He Who Is The Author
of life: He who is Truth; He who is also the Way (John 14:6). It was only He that
could bring us the peace we yearn to have; to fill us with the joy we long to feel; to
heal the pain and uncertainty.

You and I must find our connection with God! You and I must also remain
connected to Him! If the life of your family is important; if the survival of your
relationships are valuable; if they are needing to be meaningful, then being
connected to the Church (The Body of Christ) is being in the right place,
especially on Holy Week. We are united with Him and each other because there
was someone who prayed for you; and who may still be praying for you!

May the journey we make together to the Cross that ends at the empty tomb
bring us unspeakable joy in the full knowledge of all that God has done for us
through Christ Jesus, our Lord and King! May His Light so shine on us in the end,
not only as a symbol, but with the full reality that He has granted us the
forgiveness of sins and has reconciled us with Himself and with each other.