Sunday, March 16, 2008
Holy Week: Palm Sunday
Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of the Holy week leading to Easter when we celebrate the ressurection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus' triumphant arrival into Jerusalem where people put palms down in front of his path. Growing up in a protestant liturgical church, Easter was a special time for me. I loved going to church and Sunday School as a child. And, I have my grandmother (Grosmama) to thank for introducing this tradition in my life which later led to a deep commitment to Christ.
I haven't participated in any Lenten activity this year. I think chasing after a 9-month old and all of the other responsibilties I am juggling have swallowed up my time. But, I am making a special effort to thoughtfully participate in the Biblical events of Holy Week.
As I was reading in John 12 about Jesus' entry to Jerusalem for Passover I had a few thoughts. The people surrounding Jesus approached him in two ways, out of fear or out of adoration. The stark contrast of the two struck me this morning. The Pharisees, or teachers of the Jewish law, were fearful of Jesus and how His message of atonement, forgiveness and eternal life was effecting the people around Him. They were so wrapped up in trying to bring Him down that they completely missed His message of spiritual freedom. Their actions displayed a fear that Jesus might win over the people and they would lose their spiritual position as leaders.
Contrasting this is a display of adoration and joy that followed Jesus wherever He went. The night before His arrival in Jerusalem He was at a dinner party, where a woman who had experienced first-hand forgiveness and acceptance by Christ, poured out perfume at His feet worth over a year's salary. The value of her worship touches me today as I think about my own unworthiness in comparison to God's acceptance of me just as I am, tired and trying too hard.
And, then as Jesus was riding into Jerusalem crowds of people were lined up, palm branches in hand shouting their praise to Him. "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" I admit it has been a long time since I displayed the same kind of gratefulness to Christ in response to His message of freedom in my life.
I was part of a church awhile back that handed out palm branches on Palm Sunday and at some point in the service as we were singing a hymn we lifted our palm branches in a symbolic way to commemorate the arrival of Christ in our lives. I don't think I will see any palm branches or expensive displays of perfume this year at church or at home. I am more apt to experience shouting for more cheerios and spilled water from a sippy cup at my feet. It will force me to contemplate both my resistant fears to the unknowns of life, and opportunities to raise my palm branch up and shout "Hosanna!" to the King of Kings of whom I owe everything for the thousands of times He has saved me from myself.
"Do not be afraid, O daughter of Zion;
see, your King is coming..." (John 12:15)
Lifting up my own palm branch...