Dear Siblings in Christ:
Part of what I like about Palm Sunday is that it’s just a little ridiculous. It was meant to be. This was protest theater by Jesus of Nazareth that intentionally flew in the face of those messianic-like heroes of war that came into town on huge war-horses to throngs of cheering thousands. This moment was full of common people throwing common things into the road to make way for a teacher who was riding a common donkey to overthrow the common order. Jerusalem was in an uproar about this weird protest march heading towards the center of town, the temple. Jesus went to the temple and overturned the tables of those who were “selling” special temple money at exorbitant prices then healed people then verbally sparred with the temple leaders before he left. It was quite a day.
We are in a very different moment when the order of everything feels upset but instead of being ridiculous its… I don’t know if we have the right words for this, yet. Terrifying? Confusing? Sad? Angering? It is a moment when otherwise common materials – like soap – have a deeper meaning. It is a moment when common practices – like being close to each other – have a deeper sense of risk. It is a moment when some people doing work sometimes otherwise dismissed as common – such as grocery store workers – are revealed as people doing work that was always essential. It is a moment when the assumed power of many companies and governments is being revealed not to be power over us but our own power used against us. The tables of these moneychangers are being overturned as are the fragility of the financial systems that serve their purposes. The veil has fallen. Few healings have started. The sparring with the leaders of civic and financial religion has.
This particular journey is in between destinations and the path simply isn’t as clear as we might hope. It will end. There will be a moment when something will shift and we will be able to be close enough to each other to hear a whisper, again. There will be the first handshake after… The first hug after… The first time we laugh in a slightly too full room of friends after… The first hymn we sing after… It will come.
And we can’t rush it. When I became a parent, I heard from more than one person that “the days can be long but the years go quickly.” When, on the last day of March, someone in my Twitter feed said “Happy March 99th” it made a lot of sense to me. There is no rushing getting together again without making room for COVID-19. It makes these days go slow. Some of that I revel in but I also confess to an irrational impatience with it all that says more about the addictive nature of the busyness in my life than I would like to admit. Sometimes these days feel like rehab.
The march into Jerusalem was slow. It was plodding, It was ridiculous. It kicks off a week that has some truly awful things yet to come in it before a day even more strange and even more ridiculous; a day that undercuts the meaning of everything that came before it.
But we’re not there yet. This Palm Sunday we say “Hosanna,” anyway, even though we’re not quite sure what it means.
——–Rev. Mike Denton
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