When they neared Jerusalem, having arrived at Bethphage on Mount Olives, Jesus sent two disciples with these instructions: “Go over to the village across from you. You’ll find a donkey tethered there, her colt with her. Untie her and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you’re doing, say, ‘The Master needs them!’ He will send them with you.” This is the full story of what was sketched earlier by the prophet: Tell Zion’s daughter, “Look, your king’s on his way, poised and ready, mounted on a donkey, on a colt, foal of a pack animal.” The disciples went and did exactly what Jesus told them to do. They led the donkey and colt out, laid some of their clothes on them, and Jesus mounted. Nearly all the people in the crowd threw their garments down on the road, giving him a royal welcome. Others cut branches from the trees and threw them down as a welcome mat. Crowds went ahead and crowds followed, all of them calling out, “Hosanna to David’s son!” “Blessed is he who comes in God’s name!” “Hosanna in highest heaven!” As he made his entrance into Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken. Unnerved, people were asking, “What’s going on here? Who is this?” The parade crowd answered, “This is the prophet Jesus, the one from Nazareth in Galilee.”
-Matthew 21: 1-11
As we enter into Holy Week today we do so with heavy and broken hearts. As Jesus-people we know we are not where the prophet Jesus of Nazareth in Galilee would have us be.
Jesus proclaimed good news for all of Creation – and we live in a Creation that is dying around us, from wounds and desecrations we have inflicted upon this first gift given by God in love and in joy.
Jesus proclaimed peace, telling Peter to “put down his sword” – and we live in a world that is addicted to the instruments of violence, laid achingly bare for us once again this past week.
Jesus proclaimed welcome, for those he healed, to those he called, and even to those who ignored him or harmed him – and we live in an era of walls, closed borders, hatred, fear and xenophobia.
How do we enter into Holy Week in the state we are in, how do we worship this Sunday knowing that so many are living with an overwhelming sense of loss and grief this Sunday?
Just how do we?
For me, this year, it is to dig deep into the biblical story of Holy Week. To pay attention to all of it. To open up as much space as possible in my soul for God to work on my Spirit. And to attend in a new way to prayer.
So much around us swirls out of control. Palm Sunday is the reminder that for many in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, the entrance of the prophet Jesus was startling and scary. “Who is this person?” they asked incredulously. They did not want a prophet. The words and teachings of Jesus were most unwelcome.
I hope that we will ask that same faith-question of ourselves this Holy Week. “Who is this prophet Jesus, who is this person? What is going on in him, and what is going on in me? What needs to be transformed if I am to really follow my Savior? What prophetic risk and prophetic stance am I called to take if I call myself Christian?”
May we live into the answers we find this Holy Week. May we be those who live, proclaim and struggle for Peace, Good News and Welcome. Amen.
Art: Hanna-Cheriyan Varghese, Beautiful, Jerusalem and Palms