"When Christ entered into Jerusalem the people spread garments in the way: when He enters into our hearts, we pull off our own righteousness, and not only lay it under Christ’s feet but even trample upon it ourselves."
"The crowds in front of him and behind him shouted,
'Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!' And when Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil. 'Who is this?' they asked."
Image: "The Way of Palms" Todd Pick, 2017.
PILGRIMS ON A JOURNEY
As you think about the Lenten journey so far, what have you needed to lift up and what you have needed to lay down to get to where you are? As we arrive at Palm Sunday, we are faced with the same two actions of the original crowd: lifting up and laying down.
Because we focus mainly on the palms—the lifting up of branches—we don’t hear much about the clothes that are laid on the ground. As humans, we don’t tend to think much about what is beneath us. But Matthew directs our attention to the earth when he tells us that Jerusalem was in a state of "turmoil" which literally means "was shaken" or "trembled." In the lifting of palms and laying down of garments, the earth shifted and the ground shook!
Unsure of what to expect from this man who seemed to defy all expectations, the crowd begins to ask, "Who is this? Who is he? Should we lift him up or take him down?" But those who came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover looked at Jesus riding in on a donkey, rejecting a warhorse, and still they shouted, "Save us, please!"
When Jesus comes walking into our crowded lives, we often lift our voices to sing "Hosanna" with the crowd. But do we lay down our coats in the dust for the one who carries the gospel on his back? There is messiness in that action. Remember, Jesus was not afraid to get his hands and feet dirty by touching those thought to be untouchable and walking with those whose path is difficult.
So beware: if you want to prepare the way of the Lord and shout, "Blessed is the One," then your finely woven garments might have to get a little dirty.
It’s time to walk this parade route to its end. On this journey, Jesus will defy expectations and rise to a different kind of victory and triumph. With each step you take into this Holy Week, remember that dying to old ways and being raised will require a new way of living... will require learning to embody the rhythm of lifting up and laying down.
PRAYER FOR THE JOURNEY
God of the journey, in gentleness and humility you enter our uncertain lives. In unexpected ways, you fulfill your promise to all people. You have come among us as life-giver, liberator and love divine. The story of each of our lives is the story of your coming to us again and again—as friend and comforter, hope and healer.
Come to us again, O God, and walk through our hearts. Bless those who come in the name of peace. Bless the feet which bring good news. Bless us so that our lives—gentle and humble—might carry your love to all peoples.
Through Christ our Way, so let it be.
LIFTING UP &
By Rev. Todd Pick
On this day of jubilation as you hold your palms,
think about your Lenten pilgrimage... In this season of prayerfully sifting and sorting through the thoughts and desires of your hearts, what have you offered up—lifted—to God? What have you needed to let go of—lay down?