Blessed is the one

In their book The Last Week, Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan imagine that there was not one, but two parades happening in the city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, led one procession—an orderly line of soldiers, horses, banners and armor filing through the narrow streets mere days before the Jewish festival of Passover. A procession meant to portray power and just enough fear to keep people in line.

And the second procession? Was it even big enough or organized enough to be called a procession? Jesus riding on a donkey with a collection of ordinary folks waving tree branches and shouting Hosanna following in his wake? A procession of people pinning their hopes on a message of hope and healing.

Two processions winding through the city of Jerusalem, a city full of people weary from foreign occupation. A city that carried memories of life before the fear and uncertainty took over. A city where people were hungry. A city where people were losing jobs. A city that grieved the loss of what had been. A city that wondered where God was in the midst of this.

There were two processions that day, two ways to navigate the uncertainty of the present moment. The people faced a choice—which path would they follow? Which story would they live out?

The crowd that followed Jesus that day raised their branches and waved their cloaks and shouted, “Hosanna!” They echoed the prayer of the Psalmist—“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.”

Our lives have changed radically in the past month. Just four weeks ago, we were gathered in the sanctuary for worship, adapting to passing the peace without shaking hands. Each Sunday since then, your worship leaders have completely re-imagined what it means to lead worship. No two weeks have been the same. Work, school, caring for loved ones, carrying out basic tasks of living—it’s all changed at the same rapid pace. The pace of change, and the anxiety that pace creates can feel overwhelming.

But, in the midst of all that has changed, one thing has remained constant.

God’s love endures forever.

In the midst of grief, and change, and uncertainty—God’s love endures forever.

It is that promise that compels the crowd to shout Hosanna! It is that promise that drives Jesus ministry of hope and healing. It is that promise that roots us and compels us to continue to act.

Because God’s love endures forever, Jesus’ call to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves, continues to guide our life of faith.

Because God’s love endures forever, we will, even now, love God by honoring Sabbath time. We will find time to rest from the endless news cycle, we will not work 24/7 now that our office is in our home, we will give ourselves grace when our children struggle with on-line learning, we will rest from the notion that we can continue “business as usual.”

Because God’s love endures forever, we will, even now, find ways to care for our neighbors who are struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. We will call and e-mail and write letters to neighbors who are lonely and isolated. We will find ways to advocate for and support medical professionals and essential workers who are risking their own health to care for others. We will strive to let our actions be led by love of neighbor rather than fear of the unknown.

On this strangest of Palm Sundays, we must again choose which parade to follow. We must again choose which path to follow through this time of change and uncertainty.

Let us hold fast to the faith of the Psalmist—God’s steadfast love endures forever.

Let us join the Palm Sunday crowds and raise our Hosannas in hope.

Let us be rooted in this blessing from the poet Jan Richardson:

Blessed is the one

who comes to us

by the way of love

poured out with abandon.

Blessed is the one

who walks toward us

by the way of grace

that holds us fast.

Blessed is the one

who calls us to follow

in the way of blessing,

in the path of joy.[1]


[1] Written by Jan Richardson

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