The Day of Palms

It dawned on me that I haven’t had the true Episcopalian experience of the Lenten season. Just an abridged version due to the pandemic.

I also want to share with you one of my favorite pictures of my son:

I swear, he was almost close to flight the way he was shaking and waving those palms.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about Palm Sunday — mainly because I just finished recording the sermon.

The crowds that welcomed Jesus and shouted Hosanna — they weren’t the sophisticated, the elite, nor even hipster types of people.

They were the people who were probably at their wits end; people who were tired of being tired; people who were fed up with the powers that be.
I don’t think many of us American Christians realize how much of scripture is lost in translation when we see it through our Americanized eyes. These words that we read weren’t written by people of power or might or wealth. They were written by people who were either captives or occupied (or both). We are more the occupiers than the occupied. We don’t know what it is like to have a burdening presence of a foreign power; to be made to feel small in our own soil; to have the threat of being crushed constantly over our heads…

To be real honest — I think the crowds that shouted Hosanna would more resemble the crowds that stormed the capitol than the ones who sit in the pews in their Sunday best.

Hosanna
they shouted.
Which means “Save us.”
It was a desperate cry of the people who were occupied; a desperate cry of those who were fed up with the people in charge; desperate cry of help for those who were systematically made to feel like foreigners in their Mother Land.

They were putting their hopes of freedom in the hands of Jesus as he rode into the city on the back of a colt.

But the story ends so anti-climatically.
Jesus enters the temple.
And had Jesus instructed the people to take up their swords (or whatever they could use as weapons), they would’ve taken up arms.
Had Jesus told them to storm the palace; the people would’ve storm the palace.

But Jesus looks around and calls it a day and simply leaves to hangout with his disciples.

Then as the days progress, it becomes painfully obvious that Jesus isn’t going to lead an insurrection.
In fact, according to Matthew, Jesus spends that week laying into the religious people with 7 woes. He was criticizing his own rather than criticizing the foreign yet oppressive power.

It’s no wonder why that same crowd who cried out to Jesus to save them now chose Barabbas instead.
At least Barabbas was imprisoned for insurrection. At least he’d be willing to fight the Romans.

Hosanna.
The thing is, these people wanted to be saved but on their own terms.
They wanted to be saved by a warrior king, much like David.
They wanted to be saved by overthrowing their oppressors.
God’s plan for the world didn’t fit into their plans for the world.

Hosanna: Save us Lord…. uh, but not like that.

Which isn’t too far from many of us.
We prefer a God of power and might; not a servant leader who sacrifices and loves the enemy.
Because it’s easier to follow the God of power; might; authority; violence than the Jesus of the Gospels.
Because it’s easier to use force, power, and might than it is to serve and love.
Because it’s easier to control people than to love people.

We want a God that reinforces our world views and our ideologies rather than be challenged to not only look at our neighbors, but to love them.

Today a friend shared on his FB his thoughts after reading Bonhoeffer:

It’s easier to admire from far away than getting our hands dirty by being a follower.

I, too, would’ve been part of the crowd that put my faith and hope in a Jesus who would be triumphant secularly only to be thoroughly disappointed on who Jesus actually turned out to be.
Help me conquer my enemies Jesus, not to befriend them. Geez!

I still find myself often disappointed with Jesus.
But that’s because I want Jesus to be who I want him to be for that’s easier than being the person Jesus is calling me to be.

If I’m honest, I’d find myself wanting to be disappointed in Jesus than being continually transformed by Jesus.
And I know I can’t be the only one.

The path of Christ continually leads us to (compels us to; challenges us to) not do anything for selfish gains, but to humbly think of others as better than ourselves; to watch out for what is better for others than constantly watching out for our own good.

It’s the path that leads to transformation — transformation of ourselves and our community.

Jesus didn’t only come to save; Jesus also comes to transform.
And that transformation only comes when we allow ourselves — our egos; our tribal mentality; our ideologies — to die.
We can’t experience Resurrection without death.

And far too many of us want to experience the resurrection without dying to ourselves.
Which will ultimately lead us to shout crucify him!

Because it’s easier to admire the benefits of resurrection than it is to truly experience the resurrection that comes from death.

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