About Face

by | Mar 21, 2024 | Uncategorized

The term “about face” brings to mind a military march, where soldiers are ordered to make an abrupt turn and head in the direction from whence they came. As we continue our trek through the Lenten season, I am imagining Christ’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem. I can see his feet kicking up dust as he walks, his loyal supporters marching alongside him as the crowds welcome him with joyous celebratory splendor, almost like the St. Patrick’s Day parades that occupy every weekend on Long Island through March. Perhaps that’s why the month is named as such.

Of course, we know that soon the supporters will do an “about face,” and abruptly turn as Jesus heads straight toward the cross of his crucifixion. I find this Sunday to be the most paradoxical worship day in our Lenten journey. Lent discipline consistently reminds us to focus on self-reflection and repent. Repentance is a call to turn toward God, an abrupt “about face.” Yet, on Palm Sunday our worship liturgy uncomfortably highlights the human nature to make a 180-degree turn away from God, not towards the Lord. Our “about face” is evident in the dual-titled observance: Palm Sunday/Passion of Our Lord. We begin celebrating the triumphant entrance of Jesus into the Holy City of Jerusalem, only to tragically have our liturgy make an abrupt “about face” to the passion story of betrayal, abandonment, denial, and ultimate death of our Lord on Good Friday.

This Holy Week, I will sit in deep contemplation about this trek, about not only the “about face” of his journey, but about my own. This week we may turn away from the Lord instead of toward him. We make our own personal pilgrimages to the cross.

In the depth and darkness of this journey, we are counseled to remember that Christ was resurrected. What I often take from this is the lesson that throughout the darkest times in our lives, when our friends and loved ones have made an “about face” and turned away from us, when luck and love and circumstances are not aligned with our most hopeful thoughts, we will come through our suffering to salvation.

Please join us this Sunday, March 24, at 9:30 AM for worship as we have discussions about Jesus, about Holy Week, and “about face.” We gather at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 36 East John Street, Lindenhurst. A copy of Sunday’s worship bulletin is attached.

Pastor Marc