Palm Sunday Text: Luke 19: 28-40
Today marks the beginning of Holy Week.
In the Christian Tradition, it’s a week like no other in the year as we move through the story of the last week of Jesus’ life one day, one event at a time.
That becomes our spiritual practice this week … attending to each of these days … each with their own events and tensions and emotions.
For those of us who already know the storyline, how the week unfolds, we’re not meant to pretend we don’t know what’s coming. So today, as we find ourselves waving branches, singing our hearts out with hopefulness, we’re not meant to block out how it all turns ugly in just a few days.
We might find our way into it through something like this:
Perhaps you already know someone like this …someone whose terminal illness is such that they know that they are not long for this world. But somehow they find a way to live this day and each day for what it is … a day to be ALIVE!
A day to drink in and pour out whatever the present day holds and calls for … refusing to let it be eroded, overshadowed by the end that’s coming.
That’s not living in denial -- that’s living in the present, in the light of the end … in a way that affords a kind of freedom to be in that day. And if rejoicing happens to be what’s called for then why not rejoice with all that that we have! while we can.
It’s not about faking it. It’s about living this day with the life we’ve been given.
So that’s the other thing about this week.
While we are following the story-line of this particular week in Jesus’ life, the themes of this week are deeply human themes. The events, tensions and emotions that arise in this week, we will, in the course of our life-time, experience these in our own flesh. So in this week we practice being present to this story in a way that allows us to recognize these dynamics when they come close to home. When the story is alive and real in us, it becomes strength for us when we find ourselves in some of those very moments in our own life.
To enter into Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus in the course of this week, to be in touch with what that is for him, means that when we come into our own Gethsemane--when it all seems for not, and maybe we were naïve to have hoped for so much more-- we can know we are not there alone. We can open to his companionship with us there.
When it comes time to put the soft tender body of a loved on in the ground --how do we move through that impossible task? There’s something about doing that with the Easter morning story humming in us.
You see, there’s something powerful about moving through this story, and letting the story move through us this week.
Today we enter into that part of the story where Jesus comes riding into Jerusalem on the back of a colt. This is Jesus, one more time demonstrating God’s alternative way … a way of non-violence, a way of radical self-giving love. On the one hand it looks so feeble … so embarrassingly weak. What is this in the face of the Roman army that’s out in full force? And yet, this is Jesus … surely he must have something in mind. So why wouldn’t we celebrate his arrival … why wouldn’t we join him as he comes to usher in God’s new day.
This is where the week begins … with this felt sense of promise, excitement, uncertainty, yet courage all in one.
Ready or not, this storied week is upon us.
It’s about remembering in a way that isn’t so much about harkening back as it is allowing the Spirit of Jesus, who says I am with you, to meet us through the story. right now, right here.
So I encourage us to let go, and step in to this day and each day of this coming week, to lose ourselves in the story that we might be found by God’s grace, opened in some way to Love’s encounter with us.
Beginning this morning!
Grace to you and Peace in the name of Jesus in whose Spirit we gather this day.
Jesus has been heading for Jerusalem for some time. You might say his whole life was oriented toward this very day. As this day arrives he knows full well he is heading straight into the powers that would destroy him. His choice of a colt to ride on is in stark contrast to the scene that’s unfolding on the opposite side of the city. There, Pilate, the Roman Governor is arriving, mounted on a tall majestic stallion, leading a full-on military procession into the city.
It’s the Passover festival, when Jewish pilgrims from all over, flood into the city, celebrating that great event in their history, when God opened a way, setting them free from slavery in Egypt. It’s a powerful story that can’t help but fuel their longing for freedom now. So the Roman authorities aren’t taking any chances and are making their powerful presence known.
Meanwhile over here we have Jesus on a colt … this small humble animal … short enough that Jesus’ own feet are practically dragging on the ground! This is Jesus doing what he’s been doing all along … presenting a radical alternative. He’s not naïve … he’s being deliberate. He comes in peace, one more time embodying the way of love, knowing this journey will cost him his life.
It’s important for us to know that, all along, and right up to this day, he’s had the option to abandon this call … this call that has been forming and growing in him and propelling him from the day of his baptism, when he heard “you are my beloved … on you my favour rests.” All along, he’s had the option to let it go, to disappear into the shadows … knowing that at least in the meantime, he has sown some seeds of another way. But he keeps choosing to live out this call, to reveal God’s desire for another way of being human together.
His every action on this day is deliberate.
What we are seeing is Jesus choosing to trust that this alternative way of love is still God’s desire.
And it’s more than that.
What we are seeing is Jesus choosing to trust that God’s love for him will endure whatever happens. This is Jesus choosing to trust that that bond of love will not be broken even though Jesus himself will be broken. This is Jesus trusting in God’s faithfulness … hardly knowing what that could look like.
Right from the very beginning Jesus has been inviting people to come along … to come and see. Maybe you’ve noticed: he never forces … but that’s not to say he exerts nothing, no influence, no sway.
Love is not nothing.
Love is the most powerful energy for life there is!
Love heals an anguished heart
Love loosens the bond of guilt
Love propels us toward each other
Love parts the waters, makes a way
Love lends courage
Love endures all things
He doesn’t force
but he loves us.
Knowing us better, more truthfully than we know ourselves
still -- he loves us.
Knowing well our frailty, our fear,
--because he knows so well his own -- all the more he loves us.
Knowing well the strength of our spirit
and the weakness of our flesh
still he invites us to come with him.
He calls us to come with him
not that we might accomplish great things
but that we may encounter the Love that loves him
that compels him
that propels him
that delivers him …
the Lover who will not let him or any one of us go no matter what.
This is what he’s about on this day and all week long.
At every turn he’s inviting us to “come and see!” for that’s where he wants to take us. This is what his “follow me” has been about all along … that we could know and be met by the very Love that has ignited his life … this Love that flared the whole creation into being and continues to sustain it!
This is what he’s about all week long as he presses on, committed to carrying this love into the heart of the city, into the heart of all who both fear and ache for him … that we could find ourselves in touch and touched by so powerful a love … that we could come into his same deep and wondrous freedom … the freedom that empowers us to live into the life God longs for us.
So today, from then to now, to us, wherever we are, he invites us once more to come and see.