Passion Sunday Lectionary Reflection, Year B
March 28, 2015
While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take, this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” Mark 14:22-24
This Sunday will be celebrated in many churches as Palm Sunday, in some as Passion Sunday, and probably in a few as a hybrid of Palm/Passion Sunday. The usual order of business includes long readings that hopefully are done well enough, a short homily, Holy Communion, and some form of procession, shouts of “hosanna” and the waving of palm branches if the day is celebrated as Palm Sunday. The day is the doorway to Holy Week, a sacred entry into what should be a deeply experienced story of the core of our Christian faith. However, for most folks in the pews this Sunday, Holy Week will quickly give way to the usual rhythms of daily life. Vocational church folk and active laity will spend the week in a flurry of busyness to prepare for a series of worship services beginning with Maundy Thursday and culminating with Easter Sunday.
So just what does stewardship have to do with Holy Week and the Passion story? Actually, quite a lot. Holy Week provides an excellent chunk of time to be intentional about the stewardship of time, resources, and relationship. It provides seven days in which to focus on what really matters and to revisit in an intentional way the story of our Lord’s journey to the cross and resurrection from the bonds of death. It reminds us that even though we humans desire easy short-cuts and quick answers, sometimes we need to be deliberate about how we spend our hours, days, and finite resources.
If you are tasked with preaching and leading worship this Sunday and during the subsequent services of Holy Week, you may be pretty well locked into traditional parish practices and forms that leave little room for overt pulpit ponderings about stewardship as an integral part of discipleship. But that doesn’t mean you can’t provide opportunity for your community to gain a deeper understanding of stewardship through the rhythms and events of the passion story. Plus, if your faith community is celebrating this Sunday solely as Palm Sunday, a good number of people may miss out on the entirety of the Passion story due to other commitments, thus skipping straight from a triumphal entry to a triumphant Easter morn. Consider these possibilities:
Seven Signs of Stewardship in the Shadow of the Cross: A Daily Devotional Series
Pick seven readings from Mark’s passion story (Mark 14:1-15:47). You might include:
“Jesus’ anointing at Bethany” (14:3-9) explores the concept of radical generosity;
“Sleepy Disciples and a Distraught Jesus” (14:32-41), illustrates that an important part of stewardship is awareness and being present in the moment–even when such presence is tough;
“Peter’s Good Intentions and Epic Fail” (14:27-31, 66-72), shows us that even the most well-intentioned disciples fall down and fail;
“Keeping the Peace and Pleasing the Crowd with Pilate” (15:1-15), illustrates that sometimes we fail to be good stewards because we are too busy making peace and pleasing others even when we know that’s not the way to go;
“Stewardship and Suffering” (15:16-34), focuses on the fact that Jesus’ suffering offers us a model that discipleship and resulting stewardship may involve suffering, but that we are never alone because Jesus went to the cross for us and faced that ultimate isolation from his Father, and
“Sacrificial Giving: Joseph of Arimathea Steps Up to the Plate” (15:42-46), shows that sometimes stewards are required to step out of their comfort zones to do what is right and needed.
You might also choose to focus on the faithfulness of the women (15:40-41, 47) and the idea that stewards persevere.
Finally, you might also craft a stewardship reflection based on Psalm 31:9-16. No matter how tough life seems, no matter how desperate the situation, God is faithful, able to deliver us, and abounding in steadfast love and grace.
Whatever you choose to do with this week’s lessons, make sure to present the power of the Passion story in a way that your community can access in new and fresh ways–including serving up a healthy side of stewardship education. Blessings on your preaching and teaching.
(Photos: Lian Chang, Georgie Pauwels, and Waiting for the Word, Creative Commons)