Jesus and his disciples travel to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Jesus asks for a colt to ride. Naturally.
The desperate people, they ran.
The bustling crowds, they cheered.
The branches were waved.
Their valued cloaks laid out on the dusty ground.
Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in God’s name! Blessed the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!
I was going to write a Palm Sunday post this morning, then I read the following insightful words of my friend, Jeff Lucas, and thought I would share those instead!
‘…..But here’s the thing. There’s no crowds, they’re all thinned now by social distancing, and rightly so. And so now some of us find ourselves as those called to observe this Holy Week, but feeling tired, flat, weary, and somewhat unholy as a result.
Where doth this lethargy cometh from, I hear you ask, you who have been reading the King James a bit because you’ve got time on your hands.
Well, for one thing, we’re inactive. Yes, we can go out for exercise, but the sight of an approaching stranger nudges us into multi-layered apprehension. What if they are carriers of the dreaded pox? And then, what side of the path or pavement should I occupy? Do normal traffic rules apply (drive on the left, UK people)? Why aren’t they moving over to play their part in the distancing routine?
And then, as we pass, should we greet them even briefly, expelling something called droplets in the process? Should we smile, wish them well, or just scurry on? And is the masked person someone taking extra distancing precautions, or are they in fact a bank robber on their way home from a failed job (they went to rob the bank, but like everything else, it was closed…..)
We watch screens and are overwhelmed by a continual flow of bad news, daunting statistics and speculation. We are grateful for national leaders who are doing their best and heartened by health worker heroes who are spending themselves for us. But then their self-sacrificial giving of themselves creates a greater sense of powerlessness in us – what, if anything, can we do to help? We’re told that our greatest contribution is to stay at home and save lives – and that is true – but it seems like a paltry effort.
In lockdown, our conversations go in circles. There’s a shortage of ‘so what did you do today’ chatter, because we all know what we did today. And the we feel additional gloom about feeling glum together, because we know that there are many who have to steer through lock down alone.
All in all, some of us feel various degrees of emotional flatness. I write, not to add to the sense of gloom, but to say that it’s okay to feel like this. We should grieve when young nurses die, and when we wonder what on earth will happen to the poor in India. We should recognise that we were created for productivity, and when our capacity to deliver, produce, complete and resolve, we feel stunted. We should know that we are suffering the effect of seismic shock, thrust suddenly into a Bruce Willis disaster movie, one in which Brucie has yet to rescue us from the approaching meteor or, in this case, the lurking virus.
But we today, we who follow Christ reach for a palm branch. Our arms might be tired as we wave it, and our cry of Hosanna might feel just a little hollow. We feel a little silly, even, waving bits of a tree without a crowd or a physical congregation to bolster our hearts.
But we know that our emotions are not the barometer of our spirituality. We look past the headlines, to the One who has ridden in the city, to die, to live, to ascend, and ultimately to come again.
When we feel nudged towards hopelessness, faith affirms that He is still our hope.
So go ahead. Pick up that palm branch, weary soul. Give it a wave. You know it makes sense.’
Lord, remind us today. As we wave our paper palm branches and reread your story. As we shout ‘hosanna,’ remind us salvation is ours – help us to fully grasp its true meaning: to be saved from danger, to be delivered, protected, rescued, kept from being lost, to be healed, and made whole. But not just today, tomorrow and the roller coaster of Holy week. And as you remind us of what we need to lay down, let us find your amazing grace drowning our fickle ways, protecting us from saying, ‘Crucify Him.’ Amen.
You are loved! Michelle xo