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Deliver Us From Evil

By Dan Baumgartner on
Dan Baumgartner
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Mar 23 in Musings
Life is full at Hollywood Presbyterian.  Having made it through the Westboro Baptist pickets, the Ides of March, the LA Marathon Sunday, Lenten Small Groups and Wednesday evening services in Wylie Chapel we find ourselves rather abruptly staring at Palm Sunday. It is the beginning of Holy Week.
This means that as next week unfolds, we will follow Jesus on the way to the cross. That journey is prayed through, studied and ruminated on in various ways in the worshipping life of our community.  As far as the schedule goes, it looks like this: on Maundy Thursday we gather in Wylie Chapel for a communion service that invites us to sit at the Lord’s Table and consider his last time with the disciples. On Good Friday we will worship alongside Reality LA Church in the sanctuary. It will be a weighty and beautiful time of reflecting on the crucifixion and death of Jesus.  That evening and all day Saturday, we wait in the in-between time with a Prayer Vigil in Wylie or at home. And then the light of resurrection breaks in on Sunday at the two Easter morning celebrations.
These are the logistical events of Holy Week and it will be a very rich time. But there is more. My experience is that for people of faith, this week can be a time of trial and temptation. Does that surprise you?  I have this conversation each year with our church staff, and it applies to all of us. It took me a few years in a faith community to realize, but every year at exactly this time, things happen. There is an increase in irritability with one another, family drama, frustration with leaders, the sense that everything is urgent- everything hits around Holy Week. I don’t spend much time talking about the powers of darkness, but what would the devil like more than Jesus’ people bickering or upset during the week we focus most closely on the cross and resurrection of Jesus? Peter’s words in I Peter 5:8-9a seem especially applicable: “Be sober, be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith.”
So what do we do?  Here is what I told our staff: “Be aware, practice extra patience, reach out to people, be prayerful...and claim the power of Christ’s light being stronger than any darkness.  Even just remembering our vulnerability goes a long way toward keeping our hearts and minds on Jesus.”
See you soon,
            Pastor Dan      

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