Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday

Today, of course, was Palm Sunday. I never thought much about this day in previous years, but in a liturgical church (in which I’ve lately found myself), these special days seem to be everything. I sensed an expectancy in church this morning, a hope that reaches out and towards. The altar linen was changed from a deep, lovely purple to a vibrant red and there were palm fronds and this kite-like dove flying above us with the choir procession. I even saw a red balloon bobbing from a pew bench where a dozen older ladies dressed in purple and wearing red hats sat. I like this church because the sanctuary is so stately and the service so serious and thoughtful, yet there are always sort of absurd things like ladies in red hats or a sermon that consists mostly of sharing about the softball team’s latest victory to make one feel that any blunders she makes will be either overlooked or laughed at good-naturedly. Today John and I sat next to this sweet old man named Charlie who sings very loudly and very badly and who I like immensely just for that reason.

I appreciate Palm Sunday because it reminds me that Jesus comes to save us in a way that we don’t expect, using a means that we may not like or find natural. The Son of God comes riding into our lives on a donkey, preaching a kingdom we never imagined existed, a gospel that is so different from anything we ever expected. And we can either blow him off as a crazy guy on dirty, smelly animal or recognize him as the face and hands of God we’ve been longing for, the Messiah come to rescue us, God who dwells with us. I think I like Christianity because it is so opposite all our rational ideas: to live we must die, to win we must lose, to be wise we must be children. Jesus comes into our lives, teaching us a different way—he doesn’t come like a warrior on a white horse, slashing down our enemies (despite the militant images of God the evangelical church is so fond of presenting); rather, Jesus comes humbly, quietly and deliberately to save us from ourselves, to teach us the way that is himself.

--Erica Waters


living stones said...

Wow! This is so beautiful and meaningful. Very wise, comforting, and strenthening. Thank you for this lovely writing and gentle, penetrating word from the Spirit--

John Orzechowski said...

I love these "special days" because they remind me that we're part of something bigger than ourselves--in unity with the rest of the saints throughout time and space, I think. Thanks for posting this.

living stones said...

Accepting Jesus in unexpected ways and people--I love it. Thanks for sharing this insight is such a lovely, gentle way. Anna

living stones said...

Erica, thanks for posting. I agree with the other comments. One of the reasons I like Easter is because everyone at Church pretends to be happy (is that a bad reason?). --Paul

living stones said...

Thank you, Erica. This was my first Palm Sunday in our liturgical church, and I shared some of your thoughts.

Our priest spoke about the Eucharist in his homily. I've known how different from the evangelical communion the Eucharist is almost since I first began visiting the liturgical church, but Fr. Don spoke with joy, tenderness, and awe of what Christ has done for us, and of the gift of the Eucharist. Then as he read through the Great Thanksgiving and after, I heard his voice break. I looked, and he had tears in his eyes.

That, too, was a gift, to see my priest so moved, and unashamedly sharing it with his congregation.

living stones said...

I posted the previous post--forgot to sign my name! Susan Price

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