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.]]>
8Then the word of the Lord came to me: 9Thus says the Lord: Just so I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own will and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing. 11For as the loincloth clings to one’s loins, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, says the Lord, in order that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory. But they would not listen.
Jeremiah 13: 1-11 (excerpt)
Used underpants, no less. Just my luck to be asked to write a reflection on dirty drawers! But, my higher self convicts me with that quote from 2 Timothy, “16All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” So my reluctant self begins the exegetical journey – So yes, underpants. If we were to take ours off, unwashed, and hide them in a crack in some rock by the nearest river and leave them for many days and then go back and yank them out and examine them, we’d find a muddy, torn piece of clothing that was now utterly useless.
God says he will ruin the pride of the people like those ruined, soiled pants. We will be good for nothing. But why, why would God do such a thing? It’s simple. God made God’s people to cling to God as a “loincloth clings to one’s loins” in order that they might be for God “a people, a name, a praise and a glory.” But God’s people would not and, let’s admit it, still do not listen. Our pride gets in the way and ruins our intimate relationship with our Creator. I confess my pride balks at the idea that God would rather bring me down and render me “good for nothing” than have me live in smug pride, shutting my ears to God’s will for my life. Oh, how I need a Savior. And how glad I am to walk this Lenten journey with him again. I guess one can learn a lot from underpants. And I like the fact that John Calvin agrees. Here’s his take on the simplicity of Scripture:
“The sublime mysteries of the kingdom of heaven have for the greater part been delivered with a contemptible meanness of words. Had they been adorned with a more splendid eloquence, the wicked might have cavilled [made objections], and alleged that this constituted all their force. But now, when an unpolished simplicity, almost bordering on rudeness, makes a deeper impression than the loftiest flights of oratory, what does it indicate if not that the Holy Scriptures are too mighty in the power of truth to need the rhetorician’s art?”
Creator God, help us, no matter what it takes, to cling to you in all humility.
Grayson Van Camp is an ordained minister of Word and Sacrament in the PC (U.S.A.) and an alumna of McCormick (M.Div., Class of 1992), where she serves as Director of Alumni/ae Relations.]]>