“Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good, and his love is eternal. Let the people of Israel say, “His love is eternal.” Ps. 118:1-2
“The people who were in front and those who followed behind began to shout, “Praise God! God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord! God bless the coming kingdom of King David, our father! Praise God!” Mk 11:9-10.
It is true to say that over the last year there hasn’t been much to shout about or to celebrate which is probably why, when people do get a chance to do so, their celebrations are over exuberant causing, sometimes, more harm than good with the joy quickly turning sour.
Today is Palm Sunday when Jesus was welcomed in through the city gates of Jerusalem. Unfortunately, as we know, the celebrations of that day turned sour very quickly with Jesus overturning the stalls in the Temple, generating ill feeling among the city populace, especially the religious leaders, culminating in his mock trial and crucifixion. As Christians, we know that resurrection came three days later but, while Jesus may have known what lay ahead, those who welcomed him into their city that day, did not.
Ps. 118 is known as a royal psalm in which the king asks to be admitted into the Temple to sing his royal song of thanksgiving. One can picture the great procession from the palace, through the streets to the Temple with people waving, shouting, singing and celebrating. We can see a link between this and the verses above in Mark where the crowd welcomed Jesus but he was no great King like David with chariots, wealth or status. Here was a king who was the complete opposite, riding on a colt of a donkey (a beast of burden), entering a great city with humility, grace and peace.
Many enjoy Palm Sunday as it evokes memories of Sunday School re-enactments of the story with coconut shells being used for sound effects, the congregation joining in as the crowd and someone perched on top of someone else acting the part of the donkey or failing that, an outdoor service with real animals and crowds cheering, waving home-made banners and someone acting the part of Jesus. DramaKirk, a drama group based in Hamilton have done just this over the last few years using the town of Hamilton as its’ stage to great acclaim.
While a re-enactment is good and fun to participate in, nevertheless we mustn’t forget the person at the centre of this – Jesus. Jesus entered Jerusalem knowing what was ahead of him, yet he accepted his destiny, knowing God would triumph. Has God triumphed over your heart today? Are we welcoming Jesus into our hearts today? Will we reject him tomorrow?
Lord Jesus Christ, you entered Jerusalem on a wave of enthusiasm, greeted by your joyful people, by shouts of praise and protestations of loyalty on every side. Yet you knew that the bubble would soon burst, that the welcome was only skin-deep. We come today with equal gladness, but conscious that our commitment, like theirs may not be as strong as it should be; our faith fickle if put to the test, our loyalty flawed. Speak to us through the story of that first Palm Sunday, and through the events that followed, and so may our hosannas ring out as loudly tomorrow as they do today. In your name we ask it. Amen.
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