Archive for Friday, April 3, 1998

PASTORS REFLECT ON PALM SUNDAY

April 3, 1998

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Palm Sunday will be celebrated by many local churches this Sunday.

Palm Sunday is still significant today, nearly 2,000 years after Jesus entered into Jerusalem as crowds cheered, several local Christian ministers said last week.

``Our religious feelings are centered on what God has done in sending his son and the discovery we make in our own heart of that event,'' said the Rev. Tom Stallworth, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, 4300 W. Sixth.

Stallworth said he plans to talk Sunday to his congregation about Psalm 118. The psalm was traditionally sung in that era by Jews who were making a Passover pilgrimage to the Temple at Jerusalem, when they came over a hill and saw the city.

``On that particular Passover, they were singing it as a recognition on their part that he was the one who was coming,'' Stallworth said.

Blessing of the palms

Two local churches will have a joint Palm Sunday procession.

At 10:45 a.m., members of the congregations of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 1229 Vt., and Trinity Lutheran Church, 1245 N.H., will gather in South Park on the east side of Massachusetts Street near Trinity Lutheran.

``We will have a joint Blessing of Palms ceremony and process to our churches,'' said the Rev. Charles Polifka, pastor at St. John's.

The ceremony will be preceded by a social time, beginning at 10 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran.

This is the third year the two churches have held the interdenominational Palm Sunday service, he said.

``It's just something that we could do to express our solidarity of the mystery of Christ in Jerusalem,'' Polifka said.

During Sunday's Masses, he said the St. John's congregation will read the ``Passion of Christ'' from St. Luke.

``It's the story of the sufferings and the death of Jesus,'' he said. ``It begins at the Last Supper and goes through the death of Jesus on the cross. That will be the focal point of the liturgy.''

Palms were used in Jesus' time at special events, he said.

``It's kind of like ticker tape today,'' he said. ``Palms were used to welcome heroes and people who were very important.''

A palm procession will be held, depending on the weather, at Corpus Christi Catholic Church, 1100 Kasold, at the 5:30 p.m. Mass on Saturday and the 8:30 a.m. Sunday Mass, said the Rev. Jim Shaughnessy.

``We're celebrating the Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem and the beginning of our journey through death to new life at Easter,'' Shaughnessy said.

He said the parish will celebrate the Jewish Seder on Wednesday. And he said he planned on Sunday to encourage people to take part in the triduum, which are services for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

Our savior

The Rev. Don Dunn, pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene, 1942 Mass., said he will talk to his congregation about Palm Sunday being the historic day Jesus entered Jerusalem.

``His week started with everyone excited about him, saying `Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,''' Dunn said. ``But his week ended on Friday when they crucified him.

``I think the real key to understanding it is that he entered not to be enthroned as a king, but to be crucified as our savior,'' Dunn said.

Dunn said he plans to portray the physical suffering Jesus endured on the cross through narrative and music video.

The Rev. Peter Luckey, pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt., said he will preach about the sin of anger.

Luckey explained that his sermons on past Sundays have included some of the other ``seven deadly sins,'' which are sloth, envy, pride, despair, lust, avarice and anger.

``The reason I'm focusing on anger this Sunday is because this is the Sunday we think of Jesus' re-entry in Jerusalem, where he overthrew the tables of the moneychangers in the Temple, probably the most memorable expression of Jesus' anger,'' Luckey said.

His sermon will discuss how prevalent anger is in today's society.

``I want to say that some anger, in the cause of justice, is good,'' he said. ``If we are not able to get beyond our anger to a place of love, that anger will literally eat us up.''

Paul Gray, pastor at Heartland Community Church, 1031 N.H., said he will have a Palm Sunday message on trusting God.

Gray said his church is working on a full-hour drama that will be held at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Easter, April 12.

``It will be set as if there was a radio station in Jerusalem on the day Jesus died,'' Gray said.

Actors will play the roles of radio commentators ``and there's a reporter at the scene breaking in from time to time,'' he said.

-- Dave Toplikar's phone message number is 832-7151. His e-mail address is toplikar@ljworld.com.

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