Sunday, March 28, 2010

Holy Week

Today is Palm Sunday, which begins Holy Week. Like at many Christian churches, in my congregation this weekend, we read the Gospel account of the arrest, condemnation and cruxifiction of Jesus. It is very powerful. The reading contrasts the joy and hope of people hailing Jesus as messiah when he entered Jerusalem, and the later shouts of the crowd calling for Jesus's death.

Our pastor's sermon was very touching and very humbling. She pointed out that we are supposed to recognize ourselves in both groups. We are also supposed to identify with Peter who passionately pledges his loyalty to Jesus, but then repeatedly claims to not even know him. We all fall so short of our best intentions. It is a pretty depressing thought. Indeed, our pastor confessed that Palm Sunday was her least favorite service in the whole year.

In listening again to the readings, I was reminded of several truths. We all need to be tolerant and gentle and forgiving with one another. This need comes from the fact that we are all imperfect. It is humbling to remember this. It is human nature to think of ourselves as better than the next fellow. We all tend toward self-righteousness. But the truth is that we all have plenty of short-comings, and we should always retain the humility to recognize that fact.

I think that point is not only important for theological reasons, but also for secular ones. I've read and heard a lot of news coverage in recent months about the break-down in civility in our political realm. If we'd all tone down the self-righteousness and adopt more humility, civility would be restored and there would be less cynicism towards government.

Matthew 26: 33-34, 74-75

Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.

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