We lay our sins at the cross

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Palm Sunday, March 29, 2015
Sixth Sunday in Lent
The Passion of our Lord according to Mark
Shera Nesheim, D.M.

Every year Palm Sunday is always a little intense. To start we sing and wave our palm branches with smiles on our faces. As we remember the triumphant entrance into Jerusalem of our Lord and King we echo the joy the disciples and crowds must have felt. This vibrant artistic rendition of the Lord’s Supper loudly welcomes us. 40 pieces have been individually colored by YCC youth, Sunday School students and others to make a marvelous mural. (Special thank you to Tim Krick of Christ the King Lutheran Church, Combined Locks, Wisconsin, for sharing the idea and gift of PDF for this art project).


Slowly the mood in worship begins to change. We hear the gospel lead us towards a climax beyond any story you could ever read. The one they hoped would change the world, the one who healed, the one who walked on water, he was betrayed by his own beloved friend.  In that cheap betrayal kiss, we spiral down, down, down, into violence, blame, lies and murder.

When I used to work at Camp of the Cross we used to go on a “faith walk” where we’d follow Jesus and his disciples through these last moments towards the cross. At the beginning, we’d each gather a stone to put in our pocket. The stone was to represent our sin, and our shame. We’d carry the weight of that stone through the whole walk, as we sang “Hosanna” and then as we yelled with clenched fists, “Crucify him.” Who knew such a small stone could feel so heavy. And at the end, we’d each have a chance to walk up and place our stone at the foot of the cross. Laying our guilt, fear, and shame there to be put to death with the one who takes it all to himself, Jesus, our Lord. It’s one of those moving moments I will never forget. One in which I was able to acknowledge that I have and always will be the same person, the saint and the sinner, who on the same day sings praises, and who also betrays. And yet, by laying that stone at the feet of Christ, I have never felt more free. Free from my sin. Free to truly live out of the love he gives me.

We are about to hear a dramatic reading performed by the boys in Hickory Cottage, of Jesus’ last meal with his friends, of his arrest, of his trial, and finally of his execution.

It’s okay if this feels intense and heavy. It is. As we journey together, I invite you to respond in the booklet with the bold print.

I invite you to take a moment in the silence offered to you, to reflect on what this story illumines in your own life. How Christ continues to love you, me, and the entire world despite our failures and mess ups.

And then, when you are ready, I invite you to silently bring your palm branch forward, and lay it at the base of the communion table. Leave your burdens, your fears, and your sins at the table of Christ. For it is at this very table, that later in the service, we will all taste and see that our Risen and living Lord still comes to us this day, offering hope and peace. We may be left at the tomb in this reading from Mark, but we are certain in the promises of Christ found at this communion table, and in the hope of Easter joy we are given by the grace of God.

We read together, led by the Hickory Cottage youth: The Passion of Our Lord According to Mark: