Reflection for Sunday 5 th April, 2020
Bible Reading: Matthew 21; 1-11
Palm Sunday: shouting, rejoicing, multitudes, celebration…or at least this is what is seems, yet if we
scratch the surface something quite different emerges, as we will discover in the days that follow - a
minor spoiler alert: the reflection for next week will develop the sense of loneliness, of loss, of
despair, of waiting, and of the discovery of a new reality. So you see, in just over 7 days lots of
things can happen. This is something most of us have realized recently.
But let me get back to this Sunday where Jesus enters Jerusalem - the capital city that has know
many kings, but no Messiah -at least till now. But what really goes on is that the people already in
Jerusalem encouraging those who are arriving as pilgrims for the Passover. I believe that they don’t
see the Messiah, they see another pilgrim, and in my view, when we look at the details of what follows
this is clear. The one who enters amidst acclamation does so, not on a triumphant stallion, but a meek
donkey. Have you ever wondered what that is trying to tell us? And he enters acclaimed with
Hosannas (from Hebrew hōshi `āh nnā: save now, we pray).
Take a look at the
picture - it represents
the Bible reading
today, though it comes
from China - a well
seen through different
eyes may help us reflect
and perceive new
During the next few days this multitude will gradually diminish to just a small group of people and finally the absolute loneliness. Jesus didn't seek a multitude, he didn't need one either; he had created a profound relationship with all those who were rejected for one reason or another, and even on his own, with all those times he needed to be 'apart' - on his own, because he had learnt God was always at hand - not far away. This is a reality many of us have probably experienced at one time or another, even in these last few weeks - God present in our isolation and social distancing,
And this is where we turn from the Bible reading to our reality. I am sure many of you are feeling quite different these days, looking at life though the windows at home. Never imagined that this 2020 Lent meant giving up so much, but not giving up on hope, on love, or on common sense. - The streets have much less traffic but less people doesn't mean NO people. Early last week on the corner of Drove Road and Upham Road there was a crash, because one person didn't stop to look - who else would be out driving? And as that person was driving so was another person. Not a happy meeting. Just a reminder that things aren't all that they might seem to be; be this in bad situations and lots of times in good situations.
From being "in" the community - no matter how big or small - to the reality of isolation. This is something Jesus could really tell us about. And we too know about this...yet reality won't end in this. It will be different, it brings with it the reminder that we still are part of a community of people who care, who struggle, who share, who phone up, who check out for each other, who would like to pop round but can't; who don't forget others. I wonder if those of you who can get out and take a walk have realized how many people respond to a "Good morning"/"Good afternoon", how many people smile back and say "Hello" = I pray we can keep this alive when all restrictions are ended =.
Let us become a community that stubbornly keeps speaking to God. And while we are living this current situation may all those and many other forms of being in touch remain our affirmation of community. Because we are sharing, we are wishing each other peace, we often say "God bless you". We care.
Let us remind ourselves that God has not walked away, as Jesus is to discover in what follows the reading for today. God is very much present, in the hard, the difficult, the bad, the ugly, in the hope, the love, the joy. So we too can call out Hosanna- Come Lord, save! This is not the end of the road, it is only a moment of the journey. So if Jesus reaches us as pilgrim may we recognize him as Messiah.
Let me close with the words of a well known Palm Sunday hymn adapted for these times we live. Palm Sunday hymn in a time of social distancing.
Refrain 1. We name you as Messiah 2. the boughs and cloaks of
All glory, praise and honour Great David's royal Son welcome
to you, Redeemer, King, now in the Lord's name once carpeted your trail;
to whom the lips of children coming though grief now lays a
made sweet hosannas ring! the King and Blessed One blanket
All glory, praise and honour its silence shan't prevail.
All glory, praise and honour
3. The people of the Hebrews 4. And if our song be hidden
with palms before you came; behind closed doors today.
we sing from isolation let streets themselves shout
- yet hear as we proclaim "glory!"
All glory praise and honour - their stones rejoice and say;
All glory praise and honour
copyright Dominic Grant 2020: Tune: St Theodulph. verses 1,3: adapted from a hymn of St. Theodulph as translated by J.M.Neale.
Permission granted for non-commercial usage with attribution.
May God hold you in the palm of the divine hand, Robert
The prayer today is taken from the URC Prayer Handbook 2020: What, on a donkey...?
As we imagine how our Saviour and Lord sets out to change the world forever; riding a humble beast
of burden, what deepest truth do we find contained within this comic paradox?
We can delight in how you show true vale and importance are not built upon impressions of grandeur, but are demonstrated best t(Ian Fosten)hrough humility, integrity and self-giving love.
So today, we bless all whose leadership is quietly spoken and underpinned by their lived-out example;
we bless all whose authority is achieved through honesty and selfless commitment;
we bless all whose leadership echoes the Godly contradictions of the donkey-riding Saviour
Bless all who lead us in the way of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest! (Ian Fosten)
As this year you won't be able to get a new Palm Cross, so today I'm including this paper cross.
You can colour it, you can cut the shape, you can put it in a place you can see, or where others can see.
Just a small token that says we are here, and so is God.
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