Here is a quail parade outside our window. It’s nothing like the Palm Sunday parade last Sunday, but these quail are sure cute.
Is this Palm Sunday or Parade Sunday? We started outside the church with palm leaves in our hands. We listened to Luke’s rendition of Jesus telling two of his disciples to go get the colt that no one has ever sat upon. Then we parade into church singing “Hosanna to the Son of David. O blest is he, O blest is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Just those words, just the refrain of this song, as we reenact this day of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. (Luke 19:28-40)
Well, in our little mission church gathering, only a handful of people sang and no one waved their palm branch. I didn’t see any smiles, but of course, I was looking at the hymn book trying really hard to remember the melody and sing really loud to help those who were embarrassed to sing. Then we walked slowly into church. Some would call it a trudge. No skipping. No excitement. Maybe we trudged because the elder sisters and brothers in Christ remembered from past years that we’d spend the rest of our service remembering Christ’s suffering and death.
We read five pages from Luke’s writings starting with the words, “When the hour came”. (Luke 22:14) Wow. This hour for Jesus was a really long hour. We heard about the Last Supper where Jesus said, “This cup is the new covenant”. ( Luke 22:20) We listened to Jesus’ time at Mount of Olives where he asks God, “if you are willing, take this cup away from me, still, not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) My mind’s eye saw Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss. Then one disciple cutting off the high priest’s servant’s ear which Jesus then heals. I think if this story was people driven and not God planned, this event alone would have stopped the arrest. After the ear part, we heard how Peter denied Jesus three times while Jesus was interrogated by the high priest. When the night’s interrogation was over and day came, Jesus was taken to the Sanhedrin where he was questioned more. After that, he went to Pilate, who was the Roman authority in Jerusalem. Pilate declares Jesus not guilty, but the Sanhedrin and chief priests insist that Jesus was “inciting the people”(Luke 23:5) with his teaching of “opposing payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Christ, a king.” (Luke 23:2) When Pilate hears that Jesus is from Galilee, he sends him to Herod, the Jewish ruler of Jerusalem, who punts Jesus back to Pilate. Pilate again declares Jesus not guilty, but the crowd insists that Jesus be crucified. What’s Pilate to do with these noisy people? Does he help one innocent man or stop the mob from possible riot by giving them what they want? You know the rest of the story….the flogging, the carrying of the cross through the streets to the place called the Skull, the crucifixion with two criminals, one reviled Jesus and one defended him. I like the honest thief’s words of “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”(Luke 43:42) Then we heard how dark the whole land became until three in the afternoon and Jesus says, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 43:46) One time while I was visiting Gabrielle in Roseburg, the priest had us repeat this sentence five times and told us to say it each night before we went to sleep. I thought that was a good idea, even though I haven’t attached that habit into my life yet. We then heard about Joseph burying Jesus and the women following behind so they would know about the tomb and where Jesus was put. The last words we heard were “they (the women) returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils. Then they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.” (Luke 23:55&56)
Maybe the parade was a trudge because the people of our mission church knew we’d hear the “when the hour came” story. If this was the end of the story, we’d have no church. But, it’s next Sunday’s story that makes all the difference. Next Sunday, we celebrate with these women who prepared the spices and oils. Next Sunday, we get to hear about an empty tomb and Jesus’ power over death. I bet I see smiles next Sunday. No trudging into church next Sunday.
If you’d like to hear Dan Schutte’s “Hosanna, to the Son of David”: Enjoy a YouTube clip