Palm Sunday 2021 - Women with Him: A Feminist Celebration of Easter

Sunday, March 28, 2021

 



Jesus Said Goodbye


Jesus said goodbye
by arriving;
carried once again
into a world never
and ever ready.

Burdened with triumph
only half finished,
He knew
the time was come.

Beneath waving palm fronds
weaving a fate foretold;
he heard the faint words
of his mother,

"Be it unto me;"
her strength the swaddling softness
of a blessing.



Palm Sunday Sermon



Everything about the story of the Triumphal Entry seems foreign to me. Christ entered the city of Jerusalem on the back of a colt. The people celebrated his arrival by cheering and shouting "hosannahs," layed down cloth to pave his way, and waved palm fronds to welcome him. This point in the story strikes me as strangely out of place considering the events that take place later in the week. I wonder if Christ thought the same thing.

There is an old Chinese story of a man who had a series of unfortunate, then fortunate, then unfortunate events happen. This man went out to tame a horse in the field, but the horse ran away. "How terrible this should happen!" the village would say to the man. His response was, "We shall see." A rich traveler passing through the village took pity on the man and gifted him with seven horses. "What a turn of events! How fortunate for you!" The villagers congratulated him. His response again was, "We shall see." One day, the man sent his son out to feed and water the horses. The horses became inexplicably frightened and, in a terrible accident, broke the son's leg. "How terrible this should happen!" The village again said. "We shall see," was his reply. Soon, war broke out in the country. Because the man's son was injured, he was not called into battle.

This story greatly influences my understanding of the Triumphal Entry. Jesus was arguably one of the wisest persons to wander the earth. I feel certain he was skilled int he balancing of joy and sorrow; the two are like the interlaced fingers of lovers. They hold the world in a nest of meaning. 

Whenever I buy a new cactus from the nursery, I must re-pot it in a new container with new soil to clean the roots of the plant and give it a new home. Re-potting plants is typically and easy task, but cactus add a sense of adventure because of their spines. Inevitably, I always end up with lingering spine slivers in my fingers after re-potting my friends of the opuntia species. Joy is the lingering spines in the fingertips of sorrow, just as sorrow is the spines in the fingertips of joy. Our lives - and the Divine hands that carry them - hold both.

As I think of what Christ must have been feeling and thinking during the events of Palm Sunday, I wonder if among the happiness of celebration, he felt the sting of the slivers of sorrow, knowing what was to come. In this sorrow, I want to imagine him finding slivers of comfort and joy. I wonder, if then, he thought of his mother, riding on the back of a donkey to Bethlehem. Mary was a woman of compelling strength and resilience. I have little doubt that in the moments of worry and fear leading up to the events of Easter, Christ found comfort and encouragement in the words and example of his mother.
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