Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sixth Sunday in Lent - Palm Sunday

Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary selections from the Revised Common Lectionary Year C
Psalm 118
Luke 19:28-40
Today’s Reflection:
Palm Sunday has always baffled me. So much celebration fills the day. In the days that follow we remember the deepest despair in the church: our Savior is executed. After 2000 years we know the outcome and that despair does not dig nearly so deep into our souls as it must have for the apostles and the other followers of Jesus, yet as we consider the events, we do experience some degree of the overwhelming sorrow those believers must have felt.

In the context of the day, the one verse that stands out most for me in the Psalm is twenty-four, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” The rejoicing bit can be a challenge. Every day we are flooded with the not-so-good news of the world around us and challenges faced by friends and family. Nevertheless, the Lord gives us reason to rejoice through the good things he has given us as named throughout the Psalm and other passages. Rejoicing may challenge us, but it when we do it right, it turns around those otherwise dreary times.

Growing up on a farm, I know well the perils of riding an unbroken colt. For that reason, this passage in Luke has always been one of my favorites. The history, Psalms, and prophets all contain tales of God’s power over nature, but few of them are such common man-v-beast tales as Jesus sending for, and then riding a never-before-ridden colt. Even more amazing is that the colt remained calm as the crowds shouted praise, and waved cloaks and palm fronds in the path of the approaching Jesus. Even a well-trained horse could prove skittish in such a circumstance. All this celebration, of course, disturbed the Pharisees. Jesus’s answer that the stones would take up the cry if the disciples stopped did not make them any happier. That power over nature that Jesus, as God, had reminds us on this Sunday, just what was involved in the coming week. On this day when Jesus was riding his popularity with the crowds, the events that end the week seem impossible. When we see a Jesus who commands nature, even inanimate objects, to do his will, we begin to understand just how much of a sacrifice it was for Christ to let himself be taken, tortured, and crucified.

The events in Jesus’s last week did not happen by accident or without purpose. Everything led up to the climactic overcoming death and becoming the New Covenant. Events like the triumphal entry into Jerusalem show us just how much the crucifixion later in the week was a gift to us all – one that we cannot afford to underestimate or overlook on our way to Easter. We need to rejoice today, mourn Friday and Saturday, so we can truly rejoice knowing that we need do nothing more than believe to enter into our ministry with him.
Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts.