Holy, Gracious, and Everlasting God
On Palm Sunday we are reminded that under the rule of an unjust and violent empire, your people suffered. In the midst of that suffering, your word became flesh in Jesus Christ, revealing divine love, true justice, and the gloriousness of your desire for all creation. We remember Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when his followers laid down their cloaks in humility and waved palms to proclaim him king. All too aware of the oppression of the empire, “Hosanna” they cried, “Please save us!”
We, too, see evil, suffering, and injustice all around that leaves us overwhelmed, heartbroken, weary. We confess we have become numb to violence, immobilized by uncertainty, and accepting of the status quo. This week we are reminded of the interwoven and intractable problems of our nation. We pray especially for the victims of recent gun violence, their loved ones, and their communities. Today, Christ, our Lord and king, we ask you to save us from the idolization of power, money, and weapons that foment violence in every corner of our society.
From income inequality and chronic poverty that leave people struggling to simply live. From racism and White supremacy that stir hatred and thwart the flourishing of all. From the lack of medical care and mental health resources for those who are in need of relief from pain and anguish. From the dehumanizing, commodification of human life that blinds us to the sacred worth of our neighbors.
God we come to you today waving palms, seeking to lay down our power and privilege at your feet, to walk in the ways of Jesus Christ. We confess that in this sanctuary we did not adequately acknowledge the rise in mass shootings over the past year. We repent of our unwillingness to see and to speak about the tragedies that occurred in Black and Brown neighborhoods in our own city of Chicago. We repent of our acceptance of violence that is unacceptable to you. Today we ask you to set us on a new path, saying “Hosanna please save us.”
At the beginning of this Holy Week, we are reminded that you are no stranger to suffering. And so, we trust, O God, that your Easter resurrection, not our palm waving, is the triumph over death and evil.
Gracious God, in addition to our fervent prayers for this nation, we pray for those closest to our hearts: for the restoration of broken relationships; for deep peace and comfort for those who are grieving; for the wellbeing of all those whose lives and livelihoods continue to be disrupted by the pandemic. When sorrow threatens to overwhelm us, we turn to you, our hope and our salvation, in whose presence we find joy. For those things we have named out loud and the silent concerns of our hearts we pray the words Jesus taught us to pray:
Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…. Amen.