Guest Blog: Great Expectations

ENCOUNTERING-JESUS-HOLD-2017

(NOTE: Today’s blog is written by Matthew Robinson, Director of Music, Arts and Communication at First United Methodist Church and is offered as preparation for the celebration of Palm Sunday on April 9, 2017 at FUMCMC. We hope you’ll join us in worship at 10:30 AM. — Breathe Peace, Marty.)

17626664_10210937344701129_5850363068150972086_nMeet Hank. Hank is our family’s loving, yet slightly neurotic rescue dog. Hank has been a part of my weight loss journey, getting up and walking four miles with me many times a week. Some of you have seen on my Facebook and Twitter feeds Hank’s exploits, which in recent weeks has included eliminating a very poisonous snake from our backyard. He can be a frustrating but very good dog.

One thing to note about Hank is that he’s all about expectations. As I compose this one early morning, Hank is out in the backyard and he’s upset. I’m taking a rest day. But Hank doesn’t understand. All he knows is that he isn’t going to get his favorite thing this morning . . . his walk. That’s right, HIS walk. He’s claimed it for his own based on past expectations and his referencing the history of his own focused life.

As I listen to Hank and being careful to not draw simplistic conclusions, I can’t help but ponder our own expectations when it comes to Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Hank. What exactly are our expectations for this week when we already know the outcome? You see, each year we live this event – Holy Week – over and over. How can we experience anew the celebration of Palm Sunday, the intimacy of the Upper Room, the pain of crucifixion and the joy of resurrection? Will this be another week where we simply go through the motions of our faith?

On Palm Sunday, our choir and music ensembles sing to prepare us to experience Holy Week fresh and new. We will hear a few stories of people encountering Jesus in vastly different ways during his ministry – Nicodemus, a woman in need of healing, Lazarus, and the people of Jerusalem. It’s easy to look through the Gospel and see that these people and groups had expectations and that those expectations might not have been met. Through the readings and songs, I hope that we can find ourselves in each of these persons or groups, ways that are both good and not so good. Some of the music is a departure from traditional Palm Sunday fare but that is intentional . . . causing us to step away from our expectations and see where the week takes us rather than simply going through the motions again of yet another Holy Week.

It’s now quiet. Hank has now stopped barking, dropping his expectations and embracing his new day. Will you experience Holy Week in the same way?

Curious to see the worship order for Palm Sunday? Click HERE.

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