What were you doing Palm Sunday a year ago? If you have anything to do with church, you were probably part of a palm Sunday procession..at St Peter and Paul’s we walked alongside Pixie the pony singing and waving palms as we entered church. We read aloud the final hours of Jesus (which is called the passion) and around the country and indeed the world other churches were processing with palms, acting out the passion and belting out favourite hymns. If you weren’t at church perhaps you were visiting family, buying a few Easter eggs or going to the pub for lunch. Whatever you may have been doing, this year is very different.
But then what happened all those years ago in Jerusalem was quite different. Jesus called for the foal of a donkey and rode it into Jerusalem. Word was sent ahead that here was coming the promised Messiah, the King . This vision of a king on a donkey was in stark contrast to Pontius Pilate and his powerful army entering Jerusalem at the same time. Power and armed strength and the need to control , versus humility and compassion and the way of love. No wonder Jerusalem was in turmoil….
Today in 2020, the world is in turmoil too, we are in the middle of a pandemic where life has been turned upside down. The need to control things, to hold power, to make plans has been swept away, instead we are reliant on the care and love of each other, of community and neighbours, of nursing staff and doctors, of those who risk their health to provide food, protection and care.
But good can come out of turmoil, not just destruction. The Greek word for turmoil we heard in the Gospel means to shake, a bit like an earthquake. To shake things up, and that’s exactly what happened as Jesus rode into Jerusalem. It’s what happened all through Holy week as Jesus got rid of the money lenders from the temple, as he washed his disciples’ feet showing them what love and service was, as he broke bread with his friends forecasting his death, as he was crucified and the Temple tore apart . Life was shaken, and everything was changed.
It is the same for us now, we too are shaken up, life has changed, we are changed… but that can be for the better if we focus less on what we need to control and more on love. So what has changed these past two weeks or so for you? What are the foundations that have been shaken in your life? Are there any changes for the better? Do we appreciate each other more, do we take less for granted?
Maybe we understand how important touch and company and relationship is?
Maybe we realise how connected we are to each other and all of creation?
Maybe we begin to notice those who are vulnerable around us, and start to look out for them? Maybe we have slowed down to have time to reflect on what is important?
Maybe we better appreciate the teachers, postworkers, shelf stackers, nurses, we passed by before… Maybe we realise how truly precious the gift of life is….
Holy week isn’t cancelled because of Covid 19, in fact perhaps it is even more real because of it, we will witness suffering and sadly some will experience it, we will see the gifts of love and service and it sometimes will pay the ultimate price. We will experience fear and grief and time in the darkness, we will wait and wait and wait…for the first shoots of new life to appear.
You see Palm Sunday isn’t all about palm crosses and a donkey anyway, it is about the way of love stronger than the way of power, it points to faith in the darkness and the ultimate victory of life over death. It is the entry of Christ not only to Jerusalem but also into our lives, …we see it as creation repairs itself, we see it every time love wins over indifference and hate, we see it when we allow ourselves to be shaken and let God in.