Luke 19:28-40  28After he had said this, [Jesus] went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.   29When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ” 32So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34They said, “The Lord needs it.” 35Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. 37As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38saying,  “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”   39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” 40He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Today’s message is a bit different, shorter, of course, because of the play provided by the Sunday School this morning, but also different because it’s invitational—into something that might not be quite expected.

Years ago, a great number of people placed themselves in churches every week, because it was expected by society.  This space was constructed in such a time, with enough room for many people to gather.  Hopefully, while here, they would hear the word of God.

Granted, all those years ago the preaching may have sounded a bit different, not only coming from more baritone and tenor voices rather than alto or soprano, but with emphases slanted to the times.

Some people believe that church is meant for the good people, and it is true that good people often gather in these buildings for inspiration, comfort, and promise.  But this week is what we call “Holy Week,” and it brings much more than the celebratory entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem as a victorious king riding on a donkey.

We will see how the disciples entered into the celebration of the Passover with Jesus, and how Jesus was arrested, condemned, and crucified.  We will hear his promise of paradise to a thief, dying with him on a neighboring cross. We will hear his words of agony and promise

On Thursday, here at Concordia, we’ll have a noon service in the chapel beginning with lunch, while the story is shared, and communion is provided.  The same will happen in the fellowship hall that evening at six.  During the evening event we’ll do our best to make it as dark as possible…

On Friday, we’ll gather in this worship space at noon.  That day there will be no meal, as we commemorate the dying of Jesus, and hear short meditations on the varied words the gospels tell us he spoke from the cross.  That evening, everyone is invited to Zion Lutheran at 6:15 over at East End, with a similar service, but led by the preachers of all five ELCA congregations in Superior.

On Saturday, we are invited to Our Savior’s at 6:30 for an abbreviated Easter Vigil observance hosted by that congregation and Bethel.

Finally, on Sunday, we’ll have worship at 7:00 right here, with breakfast downstairs between 8:15 and 9:30, and worship again at 10.

This Holy Week does not require of us perfection.  Rather, it offers us forgiveness and promise—and an invitation to participate in the kingdom of God as we live here on earth.

In a world where both the vulnerable and the strong are abused and murdered, where the callous are praised and the meek suffer, let us be the embodiment of God’s care for this creation, especially when it is difficult.

Come, gather with us this week, moving from the palms of celebration to hear the trials of Jesus, knowing that Jesus stands passionately with us in ours.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen