As we all begin this forty- day journey through Lent, a time of quiet and reflection, my mind leaps ahead. Now, why is it when you try to focus on one thing, when you quiet your body, your mind speeds up? This is something with which all contemplatives struggle. How much worse must it be for children? Oh, you wonder, where did your mind leap?
In this instance, my mind leapt to Holy Week which begins with that tumultuous, joyous expectation that Jesus had a plan to save his people. He is welcomed with crowds waving palms, riding a colt over the robes laid on the paving stones of Jerusalem, people singing and shouting in excitement, an early day version of the hero’s welcome to the returning soldiers from the World Wars.
On Palm Sunday, we reenact this event outside the church doors with our own banners, palms, songs and joy. As the crowd gathers, there is much murmuring, greetings and hugs being exchanged, little ones running in and out between elders’ feet, walkers being pushed over the bumps as folks jockey to get a better view of the proceedings. Bells ring out and the service begins outside where God’s creation is arrayed in riotous spring glory. Sometimes, it is very chilly and everyone is bundled, sometimes it is hot on the asphalt pavement and we all wish for a return to parasols. And even though we know that Good Friday is coming, today is all about triumph. A recognition that Jesus is our king and that we are part of the plan, part of the kingdom, movers and shakers of our world. I imagine the disciples and followers of Jesus felt much like this. They, of course, did not yet know the whole story, but if we are at all thoughtful, then neither do we. What is coming next? What challenges will we face as respond to the call of our particular ministries. Will the excitement and jubilation of this Palm Sunday sustain us through the horror of Good Friday and into the relief and joy of the resurrection?