Palm Sunday, April 17, 2011
Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. 11As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. 12Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double. – Zechariah 9:9-12
Today – with children all over the world- I want to wave palm branches and celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and into my life. I want to blot out the evil progression of “Holy” Week that I know is inevitable, the all too quick transition from the crowd’s “Hosannas!” into the horrific cries of “Crucify him!” And I wonder again, why did the church move from calling this day Palm Sunday to Palm/Passion Sunday anyway?
A cynic I know said that it’s because too many Christians have stopped worshipping on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday – moving directly from “palm-waving to resurrection. They skip those pesky bits that might cause them to recognize their part in Jesus’ suffering and death.” “Well,” I argued, somewhat weakly, “People are busy these days with work and family responsibilities . . . .” But ironically, there was no passion in my argument. Are any of us really too busy to walk with Jesus for just a few short days? Too busy to be amazed when instead of riding into Jerusalem on a white stallion as a mighty warrior, our King and Servant Savior, came on a humble donkey, thus fulfilling one of Zechariah’s many prophecies about him?
Am I naïve to believe we are ready to walk this troubling path, again? I don’t think so. We are, after all, “prisoners of hope.” Not all of Zechariah’s prophecies have come to pass, yet we still believe that what we hope for has been promised by the One in whom we trust. So we walk, with fear and trembling, alongside the donkey today – and later this week among the spitting, jeering mob. We are prisoners of hope, living imperfectly in a still-imperfect world. But just for today, we run with the children and we lift our branches.
Holy God, help us to come to you this day as little children, believing and rejoicing. For we know the times that are coming. And we are ashamed to confess that we sometimes lose ourselves amongst the crowd.
Grayson Van Camp is an ordained PCUSA minister of Word and Sacrament who graduated from McCormick in 1992. She currently serves as McCormick’s Director of Alumni/ae Relations.