When Jesus was barely a month old, Simeon told his mother, "This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed-and a sword will pierce your own soul too" (Luke 2:34-35). In his years of ministry, many fell and rose and many thoughts were revealed and Mary's soul was pricked, but it wasn't until Holy Week that this prediction proved completely true.
The week ahead of us is filled with moments that demonstrate (and cause) the falling and rising of many and many thoughts to be revealed, and many souls to get pierced. Just look at the glimpses into the sacred saga we'll have this Sunday: the protest parade and hope-filled celebration of Palm Sunday (Mark 11:1-11) ends with the foreshadowing of Jesus walking back at night, perhaps alone, certainly after observing something in Jerusalem that reminded him of what was ahead; and what was ahead included a close friend betraying him with a kiss (Matthew 26:47-50). Even those two moments alone in a son's life would prick a mother's soul. The events of Friday would pierce it deeply - but not irreparably.
We need our souls pierced, as reminders that God is not oblivious or indifferent to the cruelty of this world and, because of that, neither can we be.
If you aren't going to be here for the Maundy Thursday (7 p.m.) and/or Good Friday (noon) services next week, then worship in the sanctuary this Sunday where the celebration of Palm Sunday will lead into contemplation of Jesus' soul-piercing passion.
If you will make it to one or more of those weekday services that put Easter into context, then you might want to join us a little before 9 a.m. in the UMW Prayer Garden (or in the Kitchen Corridor, if it's raining). The Prayer Garden is outside between the Spears Fellowship Hall and the Sarah Blanton Classroom - east end of the Cheves St. parking lot. We will start there with a reading of Psalm 118 - one of the psalms read as pilgrims made their way to the temple during Passover. It will help to set the context for the Palm Sunday reading from Mark. We will then process in singing a line from the psalm - This is the day that the Lord has made. We will wave "leafy branches" (as Mark's gospel describes them) as we enter, so bring some from your yard. During The Well service, we'll imagine the scene of the original "Palm Sunday" that came just days before the passion of that holy Thursday and Friday.
Whichever service you choose, the days of this week to come are the most important collection of days the Church has to honor the depth of love our Lord has shown. Join us.