Today's Lectionary reading: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Mark 11:1-11 or John 12:12-16
Selected passage for reflection: Psalm 118:1-2,19-29 (NIV)
Today is Palm Sunday, the day we celebrate Jesus coming into Jerusalem. People welcomed Jesus with palm leaves on the streets, shouting "“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Jesus was celebrated just a week before his death as a change-maker, someone who would restore justice and peace. Today, many churches celebrate by waving palms. After services those palms are often burned to make ashes for next year's Ash Wednesday.
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
2 Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.”
19 Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. 21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.
22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 23 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.
25 Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success!
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you.[a] 27 The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up[b] to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you.
29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
A cornerstone—a foundational stone that joins two walls—is the first real support of a building, determining its structure and position. In many older public buildings, the cornerstone is inscribed, telling passersby when the structure was built and what its purpose was. Psalm 118:22 alludes to the stone rejected that becomes a cornerstone. The New Testament uses the cornerstone metaphor to talk about Jesus. Christ, a stone rejected by people that becomes a cornerstone. Christ, on whose foundation the church is built.
Our images of self and community have a profound effect on how we relate with others. As building stones connect to other stones on a foundation, we are reminded of our call as the Church to be a place of connecting people with God’s radical love. Our call is to work towards the healing, restoration and building of a community that glorifies Christ. When we focus on that work of healing and restoration, the Church becomes a place of God’s presence that represents the goodness and grace of God in the world.
Too often the church in power today has become inward-focused considering itself the center-stone rather than imitating the cornerstone and living out Christ’s love. In this season of Lent, we are reminded of our identity as the Church, a Church called to live out its witness in our world not by being a center-stone, rather a church that lives out Christ’s powerful transforming love that unifies us.
What are some ways you can work towards the healing, restoration and building-up of your communities--your neighborhood, your church community and the global community?
There are thousands of good answers to this question, so I encourage you to do what seems right to you, but if you are looking for suggestions, here are mine:
Your neighborhood: Volunteer to help the elderly or people with limited access to the internet navigate food delivery or COVID-19 vaccine sign-up.
Your church: Many people have lost their jobs or fallen ill in 2020 and 2021. As the Church its important that we are a healing balm for people in pain. Find out what your church is doing for outreach in your local community, and see how they may be able to use your resources or talents.
The world: Globally, an estimated 4.7 million persons are caught in sex trafficking today. Approximately 250,000–350,000 American children and youth are at risk for sex trafficking each year. Serve Globally and Love Mercy Do Justice are collaborating through FREE, an anti-sex trafficking initiative of the Evangelical Covenant Church that calls the global church to Pray, Learn, Give, and Act to oppose the evil of sex-trafficking both domestically and globally. Visit covchurch.org/free to learn more.
Christ, cornerstone of our lives. transform us by the power of your love that calls us to be faithful witnesses to your light in midst of the pain of our world. Amen.
About the Author
Prajakta David serves as the Manager of Church Relations for Serve Globally. In her role, she works to resource churches to equip them to engage well in global mission. Prajakta has a degree in Nursing, and MBA and an MDiv from North Park University. She lives in Chicago and loves walking around in the city discovering fun restaurants.