Imagine living in a land that once had been yours but now is under the control of a powerful overseer; imagine that your own political and religious leaders answer to this other force. This was life for the Jews in the time of Jesus.
They looked backwards to help them see forwards.
When Mark told of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he quoted from the prophets who had spoken to the people as they envisioned return from exile. And he quoted from Psalms.
Zechariah 9:9, Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Mark's readers have known what came next: He will defeat the enemy and the prisoners will be set free (Read Zechariah 9:10-17).
We still are reading the Gospel of Mark. And we still are being held captive. For some Christians, the captors are actual human overseers. For others, they are powerful forces. As individuals, we may be worried about loss of health or loss of a specific loved one. Or, as a community, we have shared concerns--like the devastating floods in North Dakota this past weekend.
And today, we can think of the economic strictures around the globe. How much have we lost? How much do we fear? What will tomorrow bring?
Let us also look backward to help us see forward. Here are some excerpts from Psalm 118:
I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone....
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
The Lord is God and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you.
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Also see, Two Litanies based on Psalm 118 on the UMC Worship website.