The Rev. Wallace A. Hurd IV is the Senior Pastor at Wilbraham United Church, MA.
Scripture: Matthew 21:1-11 (NRSV)
When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’ This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
‘Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’
Reflection: No Parades
The very idea of a parade is unimaginable right now. The notion that people would be gathered together, crammed together in an unbroken line down a street, is outlandish in these days of social distancing and self-quarantine. Picturing ourselves among the waving palms and strewn cloaks becomes more difficult every day. Yet, in this time of anxiety and uncertainty, there is one part of this story that is close to our hearts and ever-present in our prayers.
The assembled crowd shouts to Jesus, “Hosanna!” They are crying out to him, “Save us!” How many of our prayers, especially now, are cries to the Lord for salvation, for rescue, for relief? How often have we read a new report on the increasing number of cases, or the spread in our own communities, and asked for help? How many times have we felt our foreheads in fear, heard a cough and cowered, or answered a phone call from a loved one or a friend with trepidation?
We are prepared, as followers of Jesus Christ, to respond to this moment with strength and courage and wisdom. We are prepared, as disciples of Christ, to live in love and live out our faith. We are prepared, as Christians, to hear the cries of all who call on God and who call on us. Even in our own weakness, and our own doubt, and our own fears, we can be assured that God has heard our pleas, and that we have been saved already through Jesus Christ.
That does not mean that we are invincible, nor that we should not take precautions. But it does mean that we are able to find hope, practice our faith, and live our calls, even and especially now. We can invent new ways of showing mercy, bringing the grace and peace of Jesus Christ into the world, and sharing the good news and great gifts of our faith.
The assembled crowd called out to Jesus, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” Through food drives and phone calls, we come in the name of the Lord. Through social media and online worship, we come in the name of the Lord. Through our prayers for all who serve and all who suffer, all who give care and who need it, all who cry out for salvation, we come in the name of the Lord.
There will be no parade this year. We will only be waving palms in the privacy of our homes. But Jesus Christ is ever with us and ever for us, and we are never alone. We are blessed with the saving presence of Christ, the grace of Christ, the peace of Christ. By his name, we are all blessed. In his name, we come in love and service, sharing his blessing, his grace, his peace.
Almighty God, who was and is and always will be, who gathers us all together across space and time in your name, who loves and saves, we have our hope in you. When we cry out, you hear us, and open our ears to hear the cries of others. When we are burdened with worry and care, you offer to carry them for us, and give us the strength to share the burdens of others. Hosanna!
Lord, in your name we pray, help us to live out our faith in you through these uncertain times. Help us to know that in you, we are saved, and that in your name we can become blessings to your whole world. Guide us, not to a loud throng gathered for a parade, but to your merciful heart, and pour out your grace on us. Hosanna in the highest heaven!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Bless us with your presence and inspire us with your Holy Spirit. Bless us so that, in your name, we may bless your world, which cries to you, “Hosanna!” Amen.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prayers of Intercession:
- For the family and friends of the more than 2300 people who have died due to the Covid-19 virus so far
- For those in health care who are working with supply shortages and lack of protective equipment
- For those experiencing homelessness who cannot "stay home and stay safe" in this epidemic era
- For Faith Congregational Church in Hartford as they search for an interim pastor and eventually a new settled pastor
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For health related workers who face this epidemic daily with great personal risk
Please Pray for the Following SNEUCC Churches:
St. John's Congregational Church, Springfield, MA
First Congregational Church UCC, Spencer, MA
Southwick Congregational Church UCC, Southwick, MA
Southport Congregational Church, UCC, Southport, CT
First Congregational Church of Southington, Southington, CT
United Church of Christ, Southbury, Southbury, CT
Elm Street Congregational Church, Southbridge, MA
Pilgrim Congregational Church, UCC, Southborough, MA
The First Congregational Church of Southampton, UCC, Southampton, MA
First Congregational Church of South Windsor, South Windsor, CT
Wapping Community Church, South Windsor, CT
This Week in History:
April 3, 1968 (52 years ago) Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "mountaintop" speech to a rally of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn., less than 24 hours before he was assassinated. Addressing the need for peace and non-violent protests, King stated the phrase, “It means that we've got to stay together. We've got to stay together and maintain unity" - a phrase just as relevant today as it was 5 decades ago.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”
"Chip" Hurd is Acting Senior Pastor of the First Congregational Church of West Boylston, and a member of the MACUCC Racial Justice Task Team.