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Sunday, April 10, 2022 is Palm Sunday, which begins our walk with Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Upper Room, to the cross, and then to the empty tomb. We’ll be continuing our series “Jesus the Stranger” throughout our eleven services during Holy Week, so I wanted to give our Tri-Lakes UMC family and our online congregation a preview of what’s to come. Here’s the schedule and I hope you’ll plan to join us either in person or online (all times are in the Mountain Time Zone):


Palm Sunday: The Crowd (April 10) – Services at 8:00am, 9:30am, and 11:00am


As we begin Holy Week, we’ll be looking at the way the crowds responded to Jesus. Crowds followed him throughout his ministry, but you rarely get the sense that Jesus was playing to them. Indeed, he saw them as “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). On Palm Sunday, many saw Jesus as a celebrity and the journey down the Mount of Olives on a donkey as a red carpet moment. But Jesus would ultimately disappoint the crowd, demonstrating that he was a different sort of King and that the only red carpet he would be walking on was the one stained with his own blood as he staggered toward the cross on Friday. Join us as we examine our own tendency to be admirers of Jesus rather than his followers, often choosing the approval of the crowd over the way of the cross.


Maundy Thursday: The Betrayers (April 14) – Services at Noon and 7:00pm


When you think of famous traitors, two people automatically leap to mind: Benedict Arnold and Judas Iscariot. On Thursday of Holy Week, Judas sells out Jesus for money and then, wracked with guilt, goes and hangs himself. The truth is, however, that there were at least two traitors that turned on Jesus that night–Peter was the other, denying Jesus three times to save his own skin. The difference between Judas and Peter, however, has less to do with the nature of their betrayal than the nature of their response. Peter would be forgiven, restored by Jesus. Judas eliminated the possibility of forgiveness by cutting himself off from it completely in his death. In some ways, we all turn on Jesus in our worst moments of sin and distraction, working and manipulating our own agendas rather than his, or saving our skins when following Jesus puts a spotlight on us. On Thursday, however, we remember that Jesus sat at the table with both of these betrayers and he sits with us, too, offering forgiveness, restoration, and love.


Good Friday: The Criminals (April 15) – Services at Noon and 7:00pm


On Friday we remember that two “criminals” (thieves, bandits, revolutionaries) were crucified on the left and right of Jesus, but also remember the one in whose place Jesus took on the cross. Barabbas only gets a few lines in the Passion story, but his presence there causes us to pause and wonder what it must have been like to literally see someone die in your place who was completely innocent of the crimes for which you should have paid. It’s a powerful part of the story that reminds us that the sinless and innocent Christ died in our place, too, and goes to the lowest depths of human suffering to release us from the prison of sin and death. Come and reflect on what Christ has done for you as we focus on the cross during our services for Good Friday.


Holy Saturday: The Secret Disciples (April 16) – Service at 7:00pm (outdoors at the crosses, weather permitting)


On Saturday we focus on the day Jesus was in the tomb and on the two men who arranged for his burial. Joseph of Arimathea provided the tomb and Nicodemus helped Joseph prepare the body on that Friday afternoon. Both were part of the religious establishment, and yet both were secret disciples of Jesus. As we gather at the crosses on Saturday evening before sunset, we’ll focus on their movement from secrecy to service, from admirers of Jesus to undertakers of his mission, and learn how, we, too, can come out of the shadows and follow the crucified Christ more boldly.


Easter Sunday: The Women at the Tomb (April 17) – Services at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00am


The Gospel writers all tell us that the women in Jesus’ entourage were the first to discover that the tomb was empty. John, in particular, focuses on Mary Magdalene as really the first evangelist who proclaims the good news of Jesus’ resurrection. When Mary first encounters the risen Jesus, she thinks he is the gardner, a stranger. But as John reveals, Jesus is really the true gardner who was present at Creation and launches a new creation with his death and resurrection. As Mary told the disciples the good news, her story tells it again to us in fresh ways. Join us at one of our three Easter celebrations and join her in proclaiming, “I have seen the Lord!”


Live-streaming will be available for all the services except the Noon services on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. More information about our Holy Week services can be found on the TLUMC web site. Plan to join us for this important week and invite a friend!

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