Palm/Passion Sunday

What does suffering have to do with it?

This Sunday we meet outside the sanctuary to remember the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. His riding on a donkey seems humble but the quote from Zechariah 9:9 is of a triumphant and victorious king who cuts off chariots, warhorses, and battle bows. The Hebrew word for Hosanna is based on the same root as victorious. Zechariah’s king is one who defeats foreign nations and restores Israel.

You might remember that upon their return from Babylon, the people of Israel enjoyed religious freedom, even though it also meant a lot of rebuilding work. Those days of freedom were threatened when the Greek rulers who followed Alexander the Great began to impose Greek thought and religion on the people. Palm branches remember the days when Maccabean forces defeated Greek forces.

The rule of the Maccabees brought religious freedom for the Jewish people and a rededication of the temple which Hanukkah remembers. But soon enough the Hasmonean rule of the Maccabee family turned on itself. Some of the Jewish victors wanted to keep going and conquer more land. Others want to carve out peace.  Assassinations and foreign alliances followed.

In 63 BC, Hasmonean rule gave way to Roman rule. The Romans gave the right to rule to Herod the Great who was king at the time of Jesus’ birth. Herodian rule came to an end with the complete domination by Rome, the second destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, and the scattering of the Jewish people.

Earthly kingdoms do not bring about a Shangri-La. Vladimir Putin was “elected” to yet another term as president, despite the death of thousands in his ill-fated conquest of Ukraine. He is now the longest-serving Russian leader since Joseph Stalin. The worker’s paradise promised by all the Russian leaders since Lenin has never materialized, only a few people benefit, and the rest are expendable, just as the book Animal Farm prophesied. Strangely, some in our country long for such “leadership”.

Robert Capon in Hunting the Divine Fox maintains that people long for a Messiah who does not look like Jesus, but like Superman. We don’t want a savior who rises from the dead. We want one who never dies. We want one who will supernaturally defeat all our enemies like Superman did in the ½ hour shows I would watch as a kid. More recently the Dune movie series set up a Messiah who rules through conquest.

We will see this Sunday how the shouts of Hosanna will turn soon enough to cries of “Crucify him” when Jesus does not act like the Messiah, of their dreams.

What does suffering have to do with being the Messiah?

The second part of Palm/Passion Sunday is reading one of the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus. This year that account is from Mark.

Mark of all the Gospels has NO interest in Superman Messiah. Mark finds comfort in a Messiah that will suffer for YOU, not demand that YOU suffer for them and their agenda.

Mark (8:29) remembers Peter rightly proclaiming Jesus to be the Messiah. It was so much better than the other answers offered. However, in the next breath he tells Jesus that the Messiah cannot suffer. Jesus has some harsh words for him. “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (8:33)

As we read Mark 14 and 15 this Sunday in which a young man (maybe Mark) flees along with the rest of the disciples into the night when Jesus is arrested. This scene is not what Peter or any of the disciples had in mind.

But it is what Mark had in mind. Mark clearly prefers the Messiah who cares enough to suffer with us is what we need.

In fact, the only person in the entire Gospel of Mark who really gets Jesus is the Centurian who helped put him on the cross. As he stands there at the foot of the cross, he sees the deep love of Jesus for the thief next to him, the mother beneath him, or the crowd around him. He proclaims: “Truly, this man was the Son of God.” (15:39)

Who are the people willing to suffer for you? Remember them with appreciation this coming Holy Week.

One person I would like to remember is erwin Buschauer. He lost his dear Lynda Monday on morning at 7 am after long years of dementia. He cared for her at home as long as he could. When she was moved to assisted living, he was there day after day, even when she was not cognizant of his presence. What a witness to the heart of God.

Our comfort in these times is knowing that we and erwin and Lynda have a Messiah who will not abandon those who are ill or suffering. Jesus, our Messiah, stands with us in our pain. Let us join the Centurian in declaring: “Truly, this man was the Son of God.”

Prayer                                                                                                                                         Lord thank you for being a Messiah that stands with us not over us, washing our feet, experiencing our pain. May we see with the Centurian that you are the Son of God and may we in our actions of compassion reflect our status as the Children of God.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor John Bunge

Next Pantry – Next Saturday this Saturday, March 23.  Special Offerings during Lent will go to support this ministry. We will also have a pantry food gathering during the Easter Season. Feeding America has not been getting food donations from corporations, so that means a shortage for the Faith Food Pantry.

Please when grocery shopping, pick up some of the following for the Food Pantry:     Pasta sauce, Cereal, Soup, Canned chicken, Mac & Cheese

 Thrivent Choice Dollars – We received nearly $1,000 in Thrivent Choice dollars thus far. You can designate your dollars to Faith but need to do so before March 31. Call 1-800- Thrivent or 800-847-4836 for more information.

Musicians and Flowers Want to support the purchase of Lillies and paying Musicians? There are forms in the back of the church to use or just add a note with your contribution. Lillies are $10 and Musicians can be any amount.

Bless you for all the ways you support Faith Lutheran.

Last Souper Study on the Life of Peter in the Fireside room @ 5 pm. March 20.

Holy Week schedule:

March 24 – Palm Sunday – we meet outside the church, palms in hand. If you have live palm branches to share,  let us know in the office.

March 29 – Good Friday Service 7 pm. The Seven Last Words of Jesus.

March 31 – Easter – invite a friend – a special day – sermon, flowers, music, breakfast.

Time of Meditation –Nelson Hall continues to lead a time of prayer and meditation on Thursdays @ 1 pm. Join this group in unity of prayer and meditation.

LAUREN SCHAFER our Office Assistant’s hours are: 12:30-3:00 M – Th.                   The Pastor will be in the office Monday and Friday of Holy Week.

Confirmation Classes meet this week at 11:15 am. No class on Easter, March 31.


Choir – We practice at 9:00 am before services.

WELCA – We had a nice group last week. The Next Women’s Bible Study will be April 6. at 9:30 a.m. in the Fireside Room.

QUILTING – Emily Smith’s Group (909.255.2452) has completed 16 for Central City Lutheran Mission and 6 for Lutheran World Relief. They also gave 23 lap quilts to Smiles Seniors of Yucaipa.


Pray for erwin as he mourns the death of Lynda who passed away on March 19. He appreciates being contacted by mail or email:

Pray for the family of Glen Egerstrom the service for his mother will be April 6 at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Thousand Oaks @ 2 pm.

Pray for the Cady family — Steve’s mother Donna passed away in her sleep on Monday, February 26 at 6 am. She requested no funeral or memorial service so there are no plans yet.

  • Eloise is still home recovering. Thanks, Carol, for your visit to her.
  • The Koenig Family – Jeanne needs our continued prayers. We are also praying for their daughter, Jessica, as her leukemia leaves her tired. Lucas is in our prayers. The Good News is they will be moving back to Yucaipa.
  • Kyle and Dana’s son, Kevin’s, Mother-in-Law, Lisa, cancer was found even after surgery.
  • Cesar and Kim would also appreciate prayers for their sons, Tim, and Kyle.
  • The Sheas would appreciate prayers for Rebecca and Chris Herandez who are in need of housing for themselves and the twins.
  • Continued Godly journey for Brendan Simms, son of Bonnie Strack.


Connie and Debi put up a larger bulletin board in the Fireside Room so we can display lots of pictures of Faith in action.

If you have any that you have taken, please forward via email to Debi Hitter, She will print them for the bulletin board and pass them on to Lauren for the website.


MARCH 17 – ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARTY – Thanks to Jerry for the Potato Salad, Michele for the tossed salad, Pastor Bunge for Corn beef, and Karen for the chocolate cake!

Thanks to Nancy and Jennifer for serving.  Thanks to Bonnie and all for helping to clean up. 

This Sunday, PALM SUNDAY – Join us for quiche, fruit, and scones.  Thanks to Karen, Pat M., Jennifer for baking the quiches and to Dona for the scones.

EASTER Sunday join us for WAFFLES.  Thanks to Jennifer and Richard!!

We will be meeting in April to plan Fun Fellowship for June-Sept.

If you’d like to join us, please call Connie, 951.514.1214