This morning, in Henderson, the congregation at The Presbyterian Church celebrated Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. We had palm branches, waved mostly by children and a few child-at-heart adults. We sang songs and told the story of that triumphal entry so long ago…
When the crowds lined the streets, some spreading their cloaks out on the road, some waving palm branches, some jeering and mocking. Some were there out of curiosity or because their friends were going to see the miracle-worker from Nazareth. Some were there because they were seeking a new leader and a new government. Some were children, oblivious to any of the political overtones of the day, innocently dancing and joining in the celebration. It was noisy, it was exuberant, it was no doubt one heck of a parade.
When the disciples walked alongside a colt of a donkey carrying the one whom they had followed for months and months. They shouted and praised God joyfully for the deeds of power they had seen. I have to wonder if they didn’t get a bit excited about their current celebrity status as the crowd continued to gather and cheer them on. They certainly were still a bit clueless about where this road was leading.
When the religious leaders and the political leaders became nervous because it was apparent that this Jesus guy was not just the leader of a small, rag-tag group of fishermen and tax collectors. “Make them be quiet!” the Pharisees ordered Jesus.
When Jesus, surrounded by friends and strangers and offerings of coats and branches, replied that if the people were silent, the stones would cry out. When Jesus, fulfilling both prophecy and his calling, looked around and took in the rowdy ruckus with what I imagine to be both gratitude and sorrow. Thirty-three years of life and three years of ministry led to this week. It was almost over.
(The Palm Sunday narratives are found in Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19, and John 12.)