Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 56; 149, Numbers 20:14-29, Romans 6:1-11, Matthew 21:1-11
Today’s passage from Matthew is traditionally read during the Palm Sunday passion narrative. Jesus sends a couple disciples ahead to find a donkey and a colt so he can ride them into Jerusalem. A crowd gathers and lays cloaks and branches on the road as they praise his arrival with “Hosanna!” The colt and the donkey are rich with symbolism and meaning, but today let’s think about what it means to hear this story outside the Lenten and Easter season.
As Jesus arrived, word spread. Without social media, television, or cameras, word of mouth quickly drew great numbers – enough people to put the literal fear of God into local religious and civil authorities. A couple thousand years later, this is still true. When Christ is present in our communities, we see and hear about that presence in the testimony of changed lives. Sometimes, maybe unbeknownst to us, we are the ones testifying. When people hear our individual and collective stories, who responds with “Hosanna!” and who trembles? Throughout history, Christ has been on the side of the marginalized and downtrodden. If our lives causes the poor and the outcast to be afraid, and the powers-that-be to celebrate, it may be time to seriously re-calibrate our outlook and message.
Then there’s the other side of the coin. Most days we’re in the crowd minding our own business. When Jesus shows up are we more likely to recognize him in a polished preacher who could sell sand in a desert, a person wearing rags and living in a car, or someone who looks like they are from our own neighborhood? It’s a trick question, because it’s the message, not the style of messenger, that counts; any person we meet could be spreading the Word; we need to be open to hearing it.
We should be prepared to greet Christ not just yearly, but daily. The cloaks we lay before him are woven from lives of service; the branches grown from seeds of neighborly love. Though that first road led to the cross, we now follow him down the road to new life.
Comfort: Every day presents a chance to be renewed through Christ.
Challenge: Christ often arrives in unexpected ways, sometimes ways we find difficult to accept.
Prayer: God of New Life, thank you for the life, sacrifice, and resurrection of Christ Jesus. May my life be a worthy tribute to lay at his feet. Amen.
Discussion: Where have you unexpectedly discovered Christ?
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