“8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” [Mark ch11. v 8-9]
Those who have observed Lent have journeyed in a spiritual way by giving up something or taking up something to mark the 40 days of Jesus time in the desert. This in turn is an echo of the 40 years the people of Israel spent wandering in the desert looking for the “Promised Land”. This particular marking of time will soon finish at the end of Holy Week and we enter that week with the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem which is known as Palm Sunday.
On that Palm Sunday there was a celebration which was in truth Bitter-Sweet. On the face of it, people celebrated Jesus entry into Jerusalem on a donkey [ a sign of peace, when Kings wished to signify coming in peace, they rode a donkey rather then a war horse.]. They waved Palm Branches harking back to a King who conquered pagans and who cleansed the Temple. They put cloaks down [something they could ill-afford as most had only one cloak] remembering the Old Testament narrative of a King who had come to usurp the one in charge.
You can see all that symbolism of Kingship had consciously or unconsciously given people a sense of a new beginning, that Jesus was a King, was to be their Saviour and that all would be well. Yet, the same people because their expectations were not met, because Jesus did not defend Himself in the face of accusations, because He did not bring down a conquering army of angels – they turned against Him. The down side of the bitter-sweet moment had come, praising Him to the height one day and baying for His Crucifixion a week later.
The gap between what we want and what God gives us can be immense. It was in the case of the people at that time, what they wanted was a spectacular Saviour who acted immediately and in the way they wanted. Well it was not to be, God was at work, Jesus was at work and He changed the world but, in His time, and in His way.
Same for us really, we are disappointed when prayers are not answered immediately or in the way that we hoped for.
For me the scariest thing about the narrative of Palm Sunday is that it could have been very easy to have been one of that crowd. Swayed by high excitement and popular opinion and pulled along with what everyone else thinks and does. On a high one minute and on a low the next. Yet, we must never forget that God was at work all the way through. Jesus knew what was to come and through that time the world would change as His work ran deeper than anyone could imagine.
Our feelings now might be bitter-sweet, full of faith one minute, tapping in to the church services and sensing that comfort which they bring. Full of despair the next as we listen to the news and peruse the internet, wondering if our prayers are being heard and anxious about what is going to happen.
In all cases hang on in there, hold fast to the rock which is Jesus Christ our Saviour. There is no doubt that every prayer is heard, from each one, from those who have never prayed in their life before, to the prayer warriors of the church. God comes alongside each and every one of us in the best of times and in the worst of times. He is constant in His steadfast love for us and He answers prayer in ways that we cannot imagine.
LET US NOW PRAY TOGETHER,
We come before You at this time leading up to Easter, a time of thoughtfulness, a time of reflection, a time when we remember the Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The symbols of Kingship strewn before Him, yet celebrations so short-lived in such changeable times. Help us to remain steadfast in our faith, may we find comfort in Your Word, may we find strength when we place ourselves in You.
We pray for the scientists, the engineers, the innovators who are coming together to combat the Virus. We pray for those sick in hospital or at home and for their families. We pray for the Health Service personnel at all levels who bravely and tirelessly work to save lives. We pray earnestly for healing in the world and for all national leaders who shouldering a great burden right now and commend them to You.
Loving Lord hold us all in the palm of Your hand,
We ask in Jesus name,
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