March 25, 2024



With palms waving and the people crying “Hosanna” (God save now!) we have entered Holy Week. Many preachers I know read the whole palm/passion narrative on Palm Sunday noting that if they don’t, most of their flock will think Jesus went from the cheering crowds on Sunday to the glory of the resurrection the following Sunday. They will not sit at table with him for the last supper he shared with his friends. They will not pray with him in a garden on the night before his death. They will not hear the Roman guards arresting him or the trials he will have before the Sanhedrin, Herod, and finally Pilate who will order him to be executed by crucifixion. They, like most of the disciples before them, will not stand at the foot of that cross and weep for the suffering and death and wonder at Jesus’ undaunted decision to be killed rather than to kill.

I am noticing that in this presbytery most of our churches will hold at the least, Maundy Thursday services and Good Friday services and one, Southminster, will hold an Easter Vigil Saturday night beginning at 7:00pm – a moving service that tells the whole of salvation history. (All are welcome)!

The Christians of the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley will have ample opportunity to contemplate the human suffering that preceded the resurrection morn. Jesus’ identification with the marginalized and suffering of the world connects us, his followers, to all who suffer and it stirs our compassion.

Ann Weems, a Presbyterian writer and educator wrote a book of poems entitled “Psalms of Lament.” She wrote it in the wake of her 21-year-old son’s random death at the hands of a drive-by shooter while he was pumping gas one evening. Like the psalmists before her she marches right up to the throne of God and in a loud voice of lament cries out the pain of suffering and death, of grief and loss, of starvation and bombing, of white “goon” squads torturing and wounding young black men, of aid withheld, of hateful rhetoric and the damage it inflicts. In the preface to her poems of lament she writes the following words that remind us that the ways of the world too often bring sorrow yet, as Jesus promises, “Take heart, for I have overcome the world.” I leave them with you now as a benediction on this Holy Week:

In the godforsaken, obscure quicksand of life, there is a deafening alleluia,

rising from the souls

Of those who weep

and of those who weep with those who weep.

If you watch, you will see

the hand of God

putting the stars back in their skies,

one by one.


As ever in prayer in this Holy Week,


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