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Old Testament Reading: Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 50:4-9a

 4The Lord God has given me   the tongue of a teacher,  that I may know how to sustain   the weary with a word.  Morning by morning he wakens—   wakens my ear   to listen as those who are taught.  5The Lord God has opened my ear,   and I was not rebellious,   I did not turn backward.  6I gave my back to those who struck me,   and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;  I did not hide my face   from insult and spitting.  7The Lord God helps me;   therefore I have not been disgraced;  therefore I have set my face like flint,   and I know that I shall not be put to shame;   8he who vindicates me is near.  Who will contend with me?   Let us stand up together.  Who are my adversaries?   Let them confront me.  9aIt is the Lord God who helps me;   who will declare me guilty?

We begin the journey to the cross this coming Sunday – Palm/Passion Sunday.

It used to be that we would celebrate Palm Sunday only on Palm Sunday. But more recently, the focus has been to BEGIN the service with the Palm Sunday parade and go quickly into the story of the days that follow, leading to the cross and the tomb.

While that can be a bit of a boomerang affect on our worship and our brains, I think it happens often to us in life as well. Try as we might, we cannot compartmentalize life’s ups and downs. I know I experienced that a few weeks ago at the funeral of my Father-In-Law. We gathered to remember his life, and also to recognize that he has died and will no longer be around for family gatherings and events. As we welcomed family and friends, we met with people we hadn’t seen in decades. There was joy in the reunions, and sadness in the event.

And so this coming Sunday will hold both. We celebrate Jesus triumphant entry to Jerusalem, while knowing what Jerusalem has in store for Jesus in the coming days.

This text, the third of the four Servant Songs in Isaiah, speaks of the servant’s obedience in the midst of persecution. Though the servant has been variously understood as the prophet himself or a remnant of faithful Israel, Christians have often recognized the figure of Christ in these poems.

Welcome the King on Palm Sunday. Follow the King to the cross.

Let us pray: Almighty God, we give thanks for your Son, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Be with us as we journey from the mountaintops to the valleys. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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