Sunday, April 17, 2011

Themes for this Holy Week - Palm Sunday

6The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 10When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matthew 21: 6-11)

Triumph - The soon to be entitled "King of the Jews" who hails from the hinterlands of Galilee has entered into Jerusalem . The Gospel writer suggests that a large gathering of people went out to welcome him even as they were preparing to celebrate the Passover. There's no doubt that there were many Jews who were tired of living under the Roman Empire's heavy-handed imperial rule. Now, Jesus of Nazareth arrives, with a mighty army of perhaps a few peasant followers, to challenge the Romans and Pontius Pilate.

Trepidation - "Who is this man?" An underlying question might be "Ie he the Messiah?" He's healed many people. He's returned sight to the blind. He's proclaimed a new reign of God and he (or others?) proclaim(s) him(self) to be the Messiah. How will he overcome the soldiers? He comes into the city on a donkey and its foal, not with soldiers. He is from David's lineage and he comes to reclaim Jerusalem, not by force though but by redemption. (Breuer) - The days to come of that Holy Week (and this one) will reveal the differences between Pilate's Power, The High Council's Priorities, and Jesus of Nazareth's Proclamation of God's New Reign.

In our own time, soldiers of a ruthless ruler murder protesters in Abobo, Ivory Coast .
The people sadly and angrily cried out against the assassination of seven peaceful women in March. Women and their children flee to Liberia, of all places, to escape rampant murder and rape. Where is Jesus' reign of peace and justice to be found? In Libya "the misery of Misrata continues with no relief in sight." Will we ever witness Christ's compassionate reign as long as despots continue to murder their own citizens?

It can be very difficult to believe in the core message of the Christian gospel, peace. However, our faith rests and reverberates in the tension between these two themes: triumph and trepidation. We profess our confidence in Jesus Christ who continues to redeem our lives on this Palm Sunday even as he prepares a future for us that often lies beyond our comprehension. It is nonetheless unfathomable to believe that Christ's reign can come if we instead fail to find ways to dethrone powers and principalities continuing to enslave and murder innocent people.

Dear Lord - Create hearts of faith in us even as the events of your day and our own continue to discount the truth of your Gospel. Enable us to push back as you did against unjust powers and people who kill the innocent and inflict pain upon the poor. Strengthen us to offer Christ-like love to our neighbors in the next apartment as well as those in places we cannot physically cannot travel to but care for nonetheless. Hasten the coming of your reign where we may live with one another, freely and joyously, in an even-abiding sense of your transcendent love. Amen.

Blessings Along The Way as Another Holy Week unfolds,

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