March 21, 2013

…and also with you

Filed under: Leadership,Lectionary,Social Gospel,Stewardship of the Environment — by Lisa Meeder Turnbull @ 11:00 am

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

And also with you.

The bidding, receiving, and returning of peace is central to the social fabric of all three of the Abrahamic religions. It comes naturally to all of us, though in very different forms. For some, it is a highly ritualized exchange that flows from confession into offering. For others, it is a feature of daily life, as frequent and as natural as the safer “how are you today?” we exchange in the check-out line, at the bank, or just in passing.

Peace between and among God’s people is important to us. Peace writ large was important to Luke as well. The peace of the Lord is central to his Gospel account of the procession into Jerusalem. The “primary plot” of this story, of course, is the procession itself. The people wave palm branches, symbols of victory, and sing a psalm of approach, the traditional psalm used in approaching the temple during Passover, a psalm that carries the procession to the steps of the temple, where they will engage with the priest in a ritualized exchange of petition and entry.

But for Luke, the secondary plot, the plot of peace, is perhaps the more important. In this account, Luke both completes the exchange of peace between heaven and earth and challenges the living out of peace among God’s people. At Jesus’ birth, the angels sang of peace on earth; today the crowd sings of peace in heaven. But Jesus’ focus is on the in-between: That messy, messed-up real-life city of Jerusalem, the city that still can’t seem to get peace right. And Jesus weeps. He weeps for them, and he weeps for us.

If your congregation is anything like mine, our Liturgy of the Palms will stick to the main story. We will process around the perimeter of the nave—perhaps go outside for a lap around the building—we’ll wave our palms and sing of Glory, Laud, and Honor. Most of us will skip the part that challenges us to stop, to pause, to look upon the absence of peace, and to weep.

And so I invite you to do it anyway. Pause for a moment now, or in your time of meditation on Sunday. For whom do you grieve? For what do you weep? What is needed for peace…on earth…in heaven…in both the literal and the figurative Jerusalem…

…and also with you?


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