Paul's urgent appeal

March 26, 2012

For more commentary on this week's readings, see the Reflections on the Lectionary page, which
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This week is Palm
and/or Passion Sunday, and choices will vary as to the form of worship and the
point at which the sermon falls. Palm Sunday, with its palms waving and
salutations sung to the Savior, is an event that children will enter into
readily even if adults are a bit shy. If the choice is for a Passion Sunday
emphasis, a dramatic reading is memorable for those who speak the parts and
those who listen--and the passion narrative lends itself particularly well to
this approach.

It is, after all, the
greatest story ever told.

Another option is to
focus on the second lesson. This profound Christ-hymn is Paul's pastoral appeal
for harmony and one-mindedness in the face of petty divisiveness in the
Philippian congregation. How urgent is that appeal in our day?

In 2000, there were
34,100 denominations in the world. That number has now reached 43,000 (free registration required)--a
26 percent increase over a dozen years. While formal organizational diversity
is not all negative, neither is it a glowing witness to the unifying,
eschatological vision of Philippians 2:5-11.

This Sunday appeal for
Christ-given harmony is not April Fools' silliness. It lifts the essential
witness of the local congregation as a work-in-progress to what counts for the
well-being of the global Christian community.

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