April 9, 2023

Sermon – Palm Sunday

Pastoral Message

V. Rev. Timothy Baclig, Pastor

Palm Sunday - April 9, 2023

Beloved in Christ,

Our celebration on Palm Sunday actually began with the miracle of Christ raising of Lazarus from the dead on Saturday, April 8. The Gospel lesson of “Lazarus Saturday” prepares us for the glorious entry of Christ into the City of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (April 9).

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. Joy is experienced in overcoming 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. We are thankful that this year, we will be able to have many of you present in the church for the Sacrament of Healing.

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.

Everyone who began gathering the little town of Bethany, the home of Lazarus, and began crowding the streets as Jesus made His way to the City of Jerusalem; bringing palms and branches of olives 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. 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 hope 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.

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.John

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.