Reformation Lutheran Church A Congregation of the ELCA

Read Isaiah 8:11-15; 9:2-7

He will become a sanctuary, a stone one strikes against; for both houses of Israel he will become a rock one stumbles over — a trap and a snare for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. (v 14)


When Yahweh of hosts becomes for us a sanctuary, we have a sacred place within ourselves that covers and shelters us, giving us protection and a place where we are loved. A stone in the Hebrew language has a root that is not as hard and solid as the word sounds to us. The root of stone contains all ideas of vitality, passion, vigor and courage, and refers to the heart, to that which pertains to the center of our lives.

We believe that Yahweh, God, was in Christ reconciling us to himself. Many of the houses of Israel and Judah stumbled over Christ by rejecting him. But on Palm Sunday we remember and honor those who did not stumble over him. They did as we can do: turn our stumbling blocks into stepping stones through our inner relationship with Jesus Christ. We can welcome Christ into our minds, hearts and souls with our shouts of hosanna, glory to God in the highest, blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.

On a July morning in 1977, at 6 a.m., I stood on the Mount of Olives and welcomed the day. As I looked to the east, I could see Bethany, where Jesus began his Palm Sunday procession. As I looked to the north, I could see the summit of the Mount of Olives, over which Jesus and the procession passed that Sunday morning. As I looked down the Mount, I could visualize the descending stream of people following Jesus and waving their palm branches. I could almost see the pilgrims gathering on each side of the path through the Garden of Gethsemane to welcome Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem.

Almost 600 years before that Palm Sunday, the prophet Ezekiel had seen in a vision the presence of God leave the Holy of Holies of the temple and move out through the Golden Gate and on to the east. On Palm Sunday the presence of God returned in the person of Jesus the Christ coming from the east, through the Golden Gate and into the temple.

Now we find God’s presence in Jesus Christ. He is our sanctuary, and the one in whose presence we have protection, comfort, forgiveness and love.

The Rev. Paul Reimers Retired

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