Invitation to Prayer
Everything about Jesus is Word. This includes his silence before human tribunals, his being scourged and spat upon. Above all, his death after that great, inarticulate cry followed by the icy muteness of the corpse. No Word of God is more eloquent than this extreme condition of his mortal being. For if we did not have this Word and this self-expression on God’s part, we would not know that in the midst of all gloom “God is love”, a statement that no other religion in the world has dared to make. (Hans Urs von Balthasar, Christian Meditation, 14).
The Psalm (Psalm 34:11-18)
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 the face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
The Scripture Reading (Luke 19:37-38)
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
As Luke tells us about Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, he uses the same word for “came near” at three different places in the story. On the east side of the mount he came near to Bethany and Bethphage, a place of preparation (v. 29). Later he came near the summit of the mount, a place of celebration (v. 37). Later Jesus will descend and come near to Jerusalem, a place of lamentation as Jesus weeps over the city (v. 41). This final journey captures the significance of Jesus’ life. In Jesus, God came near to us. This coming near describes God’s ongoing activity in the world today.
How have you experienced God’s coming near to you?
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with thee there.
(The Hymnbook, Away in a Manger, p. 143)