Dear Friends and Members of Shepherd of the Hills,


This letter is the first of a series of three highlighting the different special services of Holy Week.   We will cover Palm/Passion Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  Each of these services are unique in our church year as is appropriate for the special nature of Jesus’ passion.   This week our focus is on Palm/Passion Sunday. 


There are two elements that make Palm/Passion Sunday a unique service.  It starts off with a procession with palms (or other branches) and hosannas to commemorate our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem.  Versicles, responses, a prayer and the Gospel account are part of this special start to the service.  The traditional hymn we sing is “All Glory Laud and Honor.”  This all adds to a very festival like flare to the service and is a public statement of our Lord’s kingship.  It is a time for us to remember and receive the comfort that even in Holy Week with the suffering and death of Jesus, he is Lord over all.  He does not enter Jerusalem as a victim or martyr, but as one who is determined to do the work for which he came into our world for!


The service continues as normal with the service of the Word and the service of the Sacrament.  Then the second element that makes this service unique comes at the end.  The festive mood changes as we pivot to the reading of the entire passion account as presented in Matthew, Mark or Luke.  John’s account of the passion is reserved for Good Friday.  The mood is more reflective and somber as we look ahead to walking with Jesus through his passion on Thursday and Friday.  


During the reading of the passion we pause in silence following the sentence describing Jesus’ death.  It is a long reading and gives us plenty of time for reflection and absorbing the significance of Jesus, who is fully God and fully man, suffering and dying for us, his beloved creation.  This ultimate act of love is the very center of our faith.  


As you continue your lenten journey with Jesus this week make sure as you plan you schedule for the weeks to come that you prioritize the time to join me in these special services:  Palm Sunday—March 24 at 10:30; Maundy Thursday—March 28 at 6:30; Good Friday—March 29 at 6:30.  I look forward to sharing the Gospel with you in these special ways. 


In His Love and Service,

Pastor Rust