Be in the same mind - Reflections 3-27-2021

Texts for Sunday March 28, 2021
Palm Sunday

Mark 11:1-11
Philippians 2:5-11

We move into a week-long reflection of Jesus’ crucifixion and death. Here at Gloria Dei, we commemorate Jesus’ entry in Jerusalem on Sunday. As we move through the week, Jesus will face betrayal by disciples and be charged with blasphemy and insurrection. He will die as a criminal crucified for his crimes, hanging between two thieves on a hill called “Place of the Skull”.

At worship, this “triumphal entry” in which he carries the hopes of the crowd for salvation from the dominion of the Roman empire connects with an ancient song fragment recorded in the text from Philippians from the very early Christian church with celebrates how Jesus relinquishes his God-ness, emptying himself to become human.

The passage from Philippians is believed to be one of the earliest pieces of Christian proclamation that we have. This hymn must have been familiar to Christians even far from Jerusalem – as in Philippi. It describes God as humble, willing to become the vulnerable and powerless, even to the point of dying through the torture of the cross.

The obedience "to the point of death" comes in the shape of love. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus loves, and loves, and loves right up to the cross, and even then, he loves, “Father, forgive them.” Because of that obedient love, God will elevate and reward Jesus.

Paul introduces this hymn by telling the Philippians, and us, to let same mind be in us as was in Jesus – that mindset is one of a humble, obedient, slave/servant who suffers and is willing to die for others in God’s love.

We commemorated the martyrdom of Oscar Romero this past week. He was a Catholic priest in El Salvador who was transformed by his work among the poor and powerless to see the injustices they face and to work against political repression. He was shot and killed as he presided at eucharist. This is a quote from before his death:

If God accepts the sacrifice of my life, may my death be for the freedom of my people. A bishop will die, but the Church of God, which is the people, will never perish. I do not believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me, I will rise again in the people of El Salvador.

Hmmm. That’s a lot to ponder as we move through Palm Sunday into Holy Week headed to the cross.

Side note: An article I read this week about this text from Philippians really caused me to pause. In the context of the hard conversations we have had over this past year about our systemic and structural power in terms of racism, this text invites us to tread carefully. Our interpretation of this text has traditionally come from a place of power. Patriarchy and privilege can imply or even advocate for acceptance of abuse and violence from authorities. What does this mean for someone who doesn’t really have much if any power to be emptied? What does it feel like for those who already have the form of a powerless person? We can’t answer those questions. But I do think that this year has added a layer of reflection for those of us who hold power and privilege.

How to Find Us

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245