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The Pastor’s Pen

“Our help is in the name of God who made heaven and earth…”                                                                 Psalm 124:8

In case you missed church last Sunday, it was an earth shaking experience. Palm Sunday is like that. The juxtaposition of joy and the suffering of the world make us teary and weak in the knees, much like the experience of attending the funeral of a dear friend. We’re eager to celebrate all we cherish about them, and we also know keenly the suffering we will experience now that they’re gone.        

This past Sunday was no exception. Just before worship one of our members showed me a photo taken of Kurdish Christian girls waving palms that very morning as they walked through the ruins of their former homes, now liberated from ISIS. We share their joy. By the time worship had ended, ISIS claimed responsibility for bombing two churches in Eqypt during their Palm Sunday celebrations, leaving destruction and shattered dreams behind.        

Can there ever have been a starker reminder of Palm Sunday than the juxtaposition of these two experiences on top of the story of Jesus’ triumphant journey towards Jerusalem? By virtue of our baptism, we are one with the women, men and children of these communities. When one part of the family of faith suffers, we all suffer.        

On Palm Sunday here in New England, our children led the parade of celebration as we sang “Hosanna,” meaning “blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” Did you know that “Hosanna” also means “a cry for help”?        

God answers our cries for help almost before it comes out of our mouth. Over the centuries the phrase ‘hoshiya na’ fell from common usage in the Hebrew language. The word that used to mean: “save, please” in Psalm 118 gradually came to mean, “Salvation has come”. No wonder the leaders of the Temple secretly plotted against Jesus.

Those who followed Jesus and waited upon Jesus reached out to him for help in their struggles and sufferings as we do, and he revealed to them again and again that God is an ever-present help in time of trouble.

It’s only Wednesday, but Easter’s coming. There God will redeem the worst of humanity, and we will rejoice that not even death can contain the help that God always brings.

Prayer: God grant me the humility to cry out for your help, and to trust that it will be given to me. My help is in your name, O God.

God’s grace, mercy and peace,

Pastor Anna V. Copeland