Palm Sunday: Sorrow and Joy – all mixed up… and it is good?
I haven’t done well with devotions this week. I apologize.
This has been a crazy week. I have experienced a couple of big personal highs – I sold a house, I maybe bought a house. My kids got over sickness quicker than I thought. There are good things happening.
And yet… stories of rape grabbed headlines, not just rape but a whole community’s participation in downplaying it or fully covering it up. Another more personal story of a related nature was brought to my attention as well that compounded my sorrow. In related sorrow a conversation across country took place with some pastor colleagues of mine about schism in the church… and then a story close to home moved into a next chapter that brought that same sorrow even closer.
Highs and lows. I suppose it is a fitting time to enter Holy Week. I have always been confused by Palm Sunday. I’m never quite sure what to do with it. I remember causing a stir at church several years ago when I called it a false high. People didn’t like that. They want to celebrate. What do I do with that? Jesus walks into Jerusalem talking death and suffering and the crowds following him, completely unwilling to listen, are celebrating the arrival of a King.
How do I get on board for that celebration? How do you excited about this moment of time when the larger backdrop is not good news and has no cause for celebration? I’m struggling with this right now… I’m struggling with it as I prepare a sermon for Palm Sunday, and I’m struggling with it in my own life. I want to be happy and celebrate, but somehow I feel guilty for it.
Then I hear Jesus, Jesus who KNOWS all the sorrow to come, say, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” (Luke 19:40) Jesus sees rightness to the celebration – even though he knows that the crowds don’t understand what is happening. And maybe it’s similar to Mary pouring expensive oil on his feet to celebrate him in that moment. Maybe Jesus is saying, don’t let the larger sorrows of life, don’t let the massive injustices of our landscape make us unable to enjoy the good moments when they come. I worry about living blind to the injustice and letting happy moments mask the sorrow. But Jesus once again reminds me to find the balance… that just as we cannot ignore the lows –we cannot bring the highs down. Holy Week needs Palms Sunday just as much as it needs Good Friday…. It needs Maundy Thursday just as much as it needs Easter.
As we see Jerusalem, city on a hill, looming large on our horizon… as we approach Holy week. May we practice ways to celebrate the good and lament the bad – even at the same time. May we lean neither too quickly into Easter, or wallow too long in Friday. May we not compress a week of journeying through highs and low into a single event… but truly walk the journey up and down and up again learning to take each moment for what it is – good and bad.