Today we have celebrated Palm Sunday. Once again I am intrigued by how chaotic and awkward the worship can feel. It can be a stretch to ‘connect the dots’ between triumphal entry and brutal death. Too much for one service, we attempt a flow of worship, where it appears none was intended. Frustrated – we force this story and its impact to fit our worship service and self-created time restraint.
The service for Palm Sunday is overwhelming. Even if the church designed this service to pack in the whole story, it could be the best way to begin Holy Week. On this day we enter a week filled with confusion, fear, pain and celebration. Was it not chaos for all involved during that week? Jesus had tried to explain all that was to come. But among this glorious entry into the city of ‘all that was sacred’, an entry that sung of victory and God’s blessing – who could have imagined that all would turn so horrible and tragic. The chaos certainly was overwhelming. Packed into a week – they went from certainty to despair.
And so packed into an hour and a half we, as followers of Jesus, share in this heart wrenching confusion – we enter with palms waving and exit in silent, somber awe. Exhausted we leave – wondering how all of these moments can happen so quickly.
Whether it is in an hour or a week, the moments happen quickly for they are out of our control, then and now. We walk the road this next week, invited to gather for the sacred meal, stay alert in the garden and know the sound of death’s silence. We know our hearts will rise with a dawn’s sun but for this moment we are invited to join in the journey of these six days. It does not matter how often you have experienced this Holy Week – the road is filled with new images and insights. Stay alert for the moments pass quickly.
I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars. Og Mandino
Journeys can be so confusing. Even when we are following a trusted guide, it is not always clear as to where we are going and why. Our expectations need to be re-examined and adjusted.
Entering this Holy Week, I am once again reminded of how life’s journey so often takes unforeseen turns. Throughout all of his ministry, Jesus spoke of the difficult times ahead. As he and his disciples approached Jerusalem for the celebration of Passover, all expectations for true triumph were at their highest point.
How could they know what was to happen? Even though Jesus had told them to prepare for grieving and hardship – how could they have ever imagined the events that were so near? They were filled with memories of miracles and inclusion, inspired by direct teaching and entrusted to be the ambassadors of God’s Good News. Everything pointed toward a new way, supported and encouraged by God’s presence among them.
And… they were right to anticipate a radical shift in living and believing. Through the passage of time, Jesus’ example would continue to inspire and direct the faithful to share, by word and example, another way of living in this world. A way that would raise our attentions to justice and draw our actions to mercy.
But first… Jesus would lead them through a time – dark and tragic. The path on this journey was set. It would be a while before ‘hope’ would lift the darkness and shed the light of faith’s resurrection.
The week has begun. Jerusalem’s gates have welcomed Jesus, his beloved friends and followers. We, too, find ourselves in the mix, with our own expectations. May we be open to unforeseen turns and welcome new revelations.
I am that which is highest. I am that which is lowest. I am that which is All. (“I Am” by Julian of Norwich)
Grateful for the inspiration from the ‘Art Blog’ at Episcopal Café — I find myself reflecting on this picture as an image of preparation. Labyrinths provide journeys that are often filled with emotion and insight. I have many personal stories of my experience rolling on labyrinths. Alone or with another, these journeys open the way for a more personal relationship with God. On this evening I am reminded of the song, ‘By my side’, from the musical Godspell:
Where are you going?
Where are you going?
Can you take me with you?
For my hand is cold
And needs warmth
Where are you going?
Far beyond where the horizon lies
Where the horizon lies
And the land sinks into mellow blueness
Oh please, take me with you
Let me skip the road with you
I can dare myself
I’ll put a pebble in my shoe
And watch me walk
I can walk and walk!
I shall call the pebble Dare
We will talk, we will talk about walking
Dare shall be carried
And when we both have had enough
I will take him from my shoe, singing:
“Meet your new road!”
Then I’ll take your hand
That you are here
By my side ( adapted)
Stretched out before us is a “walk” with Dare. May the twists and turns of these next three days bring all of us to that moment when we can, meet our new road — finally glad that God is here by our side.
I have reflected on this day, its chaos and its strange, awkward flow – always challenging liturgists who strive to ‘connect the dots’ between triumphal entry and brutal death. Too much for one service we try to create a flow of worship, where it appears none was intended. Frustrated – we force this story and its impact to fit our form and time.
It is chaos — and yet, when I step back from the function, I sense a possible reason. Was it not chaos for all involved during that week? Who knew – disciples and all the hopeful – that this glorious entry into the city of all that was sacred, an entry that sung of victory and God’s blessing – who knew all would turn so horrible and tragic. The chaos must have been overwhelming. Packed into a week – they went from certainty to despair. Packed into an hour and a half we share that sense of wrenching confusion – we enter with palms waving and exit in silent awe. Exhausted we leave – wondering how all of these moments can happen so quickly.
Our time of wonder is as long as a life. We walk the road this next week, feeling the connection, the compassion and the violent shift. May there be insights in these days, hours and moments. May we realize all creation’s role as God enters our own sacred places.