As we approach Palm Sunday, I start to feel that the journey through Lent is nearing its completion. We can see the end: I wonder if the disciples did?
When I think of Palm Sunday I don’t get enthused by the waving of palm crosses but by the sheer mystery and imagery of Jesus on a donkey. The Roman governor, upon returning to the Jewish city, would require the pomp and majesty. They would ride in a white horse. They would demand that the locals be made to carry the plunder of the battle, so that all could see what the Romans had done and achieved. The locals were also required to wave banners to show their allegiance to the puppet general, to the ruling class. If Caesar was known as Saviour, what of Jesus?
What would they make of Jesus, entering Jerusalem, riding on a measly donkey. Would they have laughed at the spectacle?
The locals voluntarily waving palm leaves, or anything they could, to show their delight in this Messiah in their presence.
The locals joining the entrance, voluntarily, wanting to be there.
It always strikes me that the whole Palm Sunday entrance is a subversion of the entrance made by the Romans. It is turning everything that people expected upside-down, reversing the stereotypical response.
On Good Friday, many people will march through their towns and cities, possibly not smiling, looking very sad, for they are honouring the day that we remember Christ crucified. It is important that we do not move so quickly from Palm Sunday to Easter Day without stooping at Good Friday, to feel that pain, to know of the death on that cross.
But this is the impression given to so many people outside of the Church, this maybe the only impression our communities see of the Church.
And on Easter Day, the church enter the buildings and celebrate,
out of sight of the community.
The community may only recall the Good Friday march.
What could we do to change that?
I know of a Methodist Circuit, in West Yorkshire, who are delivering hundreds of knitted chicks containing a small Easter Egg; they are tied to places across the area for people to find. (They don’t have to be the make shown)
Another church in that area is planning to leave the building and give out nigh on 150 Easter Eggs to all that they see, to give out generously as Christ gives to us.
What can we do this Easter which is demonstrably evident to all in our community?
Can we take the message of Palm Sunday and subvert the public’s perspective of Church, show that we follow Christ’s call, to join with God in the mission, to serve our community, to be outwardly looking, to show God’s love to all : not in the church building but to be in the community.