Bless my lips with Your message.
It is not
Advent, in which I count down the days. It is Lent when winter seems
eternal and warmth seems to have left the earth. But we are now into
the home stretch. Easter is on the horizon: only
Holy Week to go: palms and stripping of the altar; Maundy Thursday; the
grief and despair of Good Friday; the silence of Holy Saturday.
the glories of Easter morn with the Easter Egg hunt and
on all the goodies people were deprived of through
fat-free or tee-totaling Lent.
is always a busy week. Drying and decorating eggs. A
major house cleaning. A new Easter outfit or bonnet. Planning for the
big family get-together with ham or lamb or whatever family tradition
dictates. Easter means we can start planning the annual yard clean-up
and what we will plant. It is a time to go through our wardrobe,
cleaning and pressing and putting away the winter clothes that we are
SO tired of and getting out the Spring and summer things that seem
so bright and new once more: although that may be a bit too optimistic
for this winter with Thursday’s snow and to-day’s cold.
we get too caught
up in next Sunday, we have this Sunday. The Sunday when we get to wave
about palms and shout HALLELUJAH!!!
Palm Sunday was a day of such promise . . . Christ having attracted so
many followers . . . so many disciples . . . so much interest in His
message . . . so much curiosity and the people’s desire to be with the
We can only
imagine how it felt that day to Christ's followers . . . he rides into
the city on the back of that donkey colt: the Old Testament's promises
fulfilled . . . the triumphant entry . . . their day of glory.
remember when Elvis Presley came to Toronto . . . we all yelled
ourselves hoarse at Maple Leaf Gardens. We were the most “IN” group in
the whole world. We were there to see our “King” – the King of Rock and
Roll. Not that we heard one word of his singing: it was all drowned
out with our screaming. We loved being with him and we loved being with
others who shared our passion. We felt so much a part of something
so much bigger than we were . . . so much bigger and being a part of
his fan club everywhere.
I imagine it
felt something like that in Jerusalem that day. The streets lined with
people crying out his name. Waving palms . . . throwing their cloaks
before him . . . joyous at merely being in
great day of triumph was followed by a very different week. One in
which those who had
cheered Jesus on as He rode into the city also condemned him a mere four
voices that had been raised in praise, degenerated into voices demanding
the thief over Jesus . . . voices raised in demands for His
had professed their love of the popular
had given Him their loyalty: became those who abandoned
him, denied him, and betrayed him.
if you want to know who did that, just look at the palm branches in our
hands. Are we that much different from those of the past?
like it or not, we still abandon Christ to-day. We hear
His Word and we want to follow Him but we are human and weak and
betrayal of Him continues, in ways large and small.
often do we praise God on Sunday…and leave Him behind as
we exit the Church?
admit it . . . don’t you sometimes just find Christian life tiresome?
How often do
back on what we know is right when things become too difficult to do the
really, there are an awful lot of unlovable people in this world!
often do we talk about love . . . rather than live it?
we treat love as a fine, sweet, sentiment for a Mother’s
Day greeting cards . . . . but come on . . . a COMMANDMENT for living?
often do we see suffering in the faces of those in need, and simply
hurry on our way?
we recall Christ’s words. . .
you do to the least of these”, he said, “you do to me.”
How do you
realize it or not, we see Jesus every day, read about him in the papers,
hear about him in the news. He is everywhere there is someone who is
neglected, or disrespected, or discarded. He
is with the unwanted and unloved, the bullied and abused.
we hear Him?
we notice Him? I think that our indifference comes in part from the
malaise of city life: we don't know our
We don't know the hundreds of faces that we pass on our busy streets.
We work with people whose names we don't even know. Our children attend
schools with children whose homes and families are strangers to us.
We buy our groceries with thousands of others and never
say "hello". We are so busy "minding our own business", that we forget
that those whose path we cross ARE our business.
know more about the families of strangers that are related on TV about
the latest plane crash or kidnapping or Hollywood scandal
than we do about the people living on our own street.
it feels like the only way to survive when we live among so many other
people. We find ways to justify our choices. But it can’t
be denied. Whenever we choose to turn our backs on others, we are
turning away from the life-giving teachings of our
we wave our palms too-day, celebrating the triumph of belief . . . let
us recommit ourselves to trying a bit harder, celebrating his life a bit
more by living the life that sets one free and gives joy to our days.
That is what we want to remember this Sunday.
we need these palms as a reminder – and a challenge.
remind us that we are called to be heralds of Christ – to celebrate him
the way they did that day in the streets of Jerusalem.
these palms challenge us to keep crying “Hosanna,” to keep proclaiming
the Good News – even when the world tempts us to do otherwise, even when
it seems like it would be easier to go with the crowd and simply choose
palms challenge us to NOT turn our back and
walk away. And they challenge us not only to remember what we have done
to Him, but what He has done for us.
That is what
this week is about.
look ahead to next Sunday, and the big plans and the big meal, look
back. And look within.
look to these palms.
at what we are called to do…and who we are called to be.
do not just look at it or hear about it: the Christian
life is about doing it!
all know what we are called to do and be . . . so reach out a hand for
Share what you have with others. Make Christ’s love for all known in
the world in the way you treat others . . . and let us lift our palms in
the air, knowing that while we stumble and fall, Christ, too, stumbled
and fell on the way to Calvary . . . but just as he rose to meet His
destiny, so too must we rise and learn from our mistakes,
knowing that we are following in Christ's footsteps and that as we
continue on to life’s end as a lover of Christ, the promise, that death
cannot claim us, is our eternal reward.
And He has gone before us to open the Gate . . .
So may it be.