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Palm Sunday C – April 10, 2022

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Bellingham – Palm Sunday C – April 10, 2022

Psalm 31:9-16 (esp. v. 15)

The Rev. Rachel Endicott

May the words of my mouth and the mediations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength and redeemer. Amen.

The psalmist cries out in hopeful faith, “My times are in your hand…” Our times are in the hand of the Lord…

In our liturgical world, we mark time specifically to consider God and our relationship with God in specific ways. During Lent, we not only moved the confession to the beginning of our service, but emphasized the way in which we put ourselves under the authority of God. Additionally, at the beginning of Lent, we did the Great Litany and then the next week, we read the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments, at the beginning of the service. And especially here, we have been reminded to think about time and God. Perhaps we don’t take “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” as being as important as “You shall not commit murder”. But I’d like to suggest that our remembering what day it is – and whose day it is, and not just on the Sabbath – is imperative to our life in Christ.

In our perusal of Scripture, and sense of who we are presently, I’m guessing that most of us have a sense of not only holy times, but holy places. We remember the places where the Old Testament and New Testament stories unfolded. We particularly remember the holiness, the being sacred, of certain places: the place of the burning bush in Moses’ life, the Temple for the Hebrews, and for many Christian pilgrims both the places where Jesus went as well as our own places of worship.

I know that there is a sense here at St. Paul’s that the Nave – where we pray – and the Chancel – where we approach the high altar – are sacred space.

And most of us can probably name other places which they define as sacred space. For me, one of those places is Canterbury Cathedral. Not only are the stone floors worn from the feet of pilgrims over the ages, but there is a plaque on the wall that says, “On this spot Christian worship has been offered for 1350 years continuously. The Cathedral is built on the site of an older church which was used by British Christians of the Fourth Century.”1 And there is something about the holy there, something about the walls absorbing those prayers of the centuries, something about God’s people as they come before God in that particular space.

But, going back to today’s psalm, we have a reminder about sacred time, rather than sacred space. The psalm doesn’t say “In so and so place, the Lord has acted”, rather it talks about time, about this time and all our time being in God’s hand. I would argue that Sabbath keeping is particularly about marking time for God and for ourselves.

And today, I’m aware that as we come to Holy Week, we are aware of the need to keep a calendar, to sanctify (to make holy) time.

For those of us who celebrate a liturgical year, the calendar helps us. We have the term Holy Week – a big head’s up for those of us on the slow side that this is a special time. Then we have the terms which we use to mark the times of the week: Palm Sunday (today), Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the Great Vigil of Easter, and Easter. Each of those days marks time where God steps out to meet us in the sacred stories of those who came before us and the teaching, death and resurrection of his son Jesus.

We would be wise to order our days with God in mind and I hope we think earnestly about this period of time. It’s no wonder that monastic communities mark the changes from one part of the day or night to another with prayer and coming together. For us, we can sanctify time by our own tracking of the daily devotions found in the Book of Common Prayer or elsewhere. We can mark our rising and our going to bed, we can mark the time of eating meals with grace, and we can mark the mid-day and dusk with prayer.

I’ve never been to Taizé, the ecumenical community in Burgundy, France, but I know that some of you have. I love that their website has a daily calendar that shows how they mark their day. It is a wonderful mix of worship (three times a day), study several times a day, and eating/fellowship including tea in mid-afternoon.

And we not only mark the cycle of our days, we mark the cycle of days in the week. We particularly mark Sabbath time, time of rest. We mark days that we work or go to school. We mark days when we are with family or friends, when we recreate. We mark days of church-going and days when we are in other spaces. And it’s important to do so.

Coming to Holy Week, our schedule is shifted. It’s a week of lots of services – and I would hope that you would take advantage of that and attend the variety of liturgies. It’s a week, to quote Megan McKenna, that “profoundly disturbs the world and is meant to disturb us.”2 Indeed, sacred doesn’t always mean comfortable. It’s a week when we mark time as the Passion narrative unfolds.

I would encourage us to take time to focus and center ourselves to engage in this narrative which can’t be sped up. In our world focus isn’t valued…most people hold the value of “multi-tasking” as something to be admired. And indeed, novelist Sebastian Faulks notes that this is the reality of our current day. He points to his sons who sometimes had three screens going at once: TV, laptop, and mobile phone.3

So, if we come, leaving the multi-tasking nature of our lives behind, we can focus. We can mark as holy the time set before us. We can peer into the community of the disciples, the brutality of Jesus’ death, and eventually the hope of his resurrection.

Our times continue to be in the hand of the Lord. On this day, and in the coming week, I invite you into the sacred, into times and places marked as unique and holy…



2 Megan McKenna, unknown original source, as quoted in “Synthesis Today” Quote for March 17, 2016, online email.

3 Sebastian Faulks, speech at the Brook Green Book Festival, as quoted in “Synthesis”, 3/24/13, p. 2.

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