The journey to Jerusalem embodied in our Palm Sunday celebrations is both unsettling and calming. Because of the perennial nature of the festivities, the return of the Passover, and Jesus’ entry into the city; we feel we know what to expect. It is possible to take a deep breath and wait for the crowd to pass us by as we wave our palms and sing Hosanna. Our lines are well rehearsed. “Hosanna in the highest, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” We could say them in our sleep.
Perhaps that’s the problem. We know them too well. As calm and comfortable as we’ve become with the procession and the parade, we’re more unsettled by our expectations of the events to follow. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday loom large on the horizon. Easter Sunday seems like it will never arrive. The reality of the resurrection is confronted first by the betrayal of Peter, Judas, and maybe even us. It’s now when the days get longer that the questions get harder. Instead of reading about the life of Jesus from a distance, over the next few days, we step into the story. Are you Peter, ready to draw a sword? Perhaps you are Judas, looking for easy cash? Thomas, not sure if any of this is real? Do you want to go back home to Galilee and fish? Where are you in Jesus’ story?
I don’t need to find a chapter and verse. I need to find my place in the story. I think I’m sitting around the campfire on Sunday morning, cooking breakfast, about to receive the surprise of my life. That’s jumping the gun. The biggest challenge any Christian faces is skipping Good Friday and going straight to Easter. We can’t do that. So right now, I’m more like Arthur “Boo” Radley, the mysterious neighbor to the Finch children in Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mocking Bird”. Lurking in the dark on the Mount of Olives, watching the disciples off in the distance; I am hoping and praying that when the time comes, I’ll do the right thing.
Richard Lowell Bryant