Palm Sunday

Faithful under duress

5th April 2020  

Matt 21.1-11

The first Palm Sunday began with a little comedy: the King of heaven riding on a donkey to claim his city. Great rulers always entered a conquered town on a big white stallion encircled by a cheering army. But Jesus’ only army was a crowd of children, and their ‘weapons’ palm branches! By this tongue-in-cheek piece of street theatre Jesus got his message over: God works through the poor and the peacemaker not the rich or the violent. His opponents got the message alright, and that is what triggered the plot to kill him.

            Today we Christians are sometimes accused of being fanatics. A lazy secular press lumps all religions together and uses the example of a few to tarnish the image of the many. But Palm Sunday is about being faithful not fanatical. A fanatic never has a moment’s anguish or self-doubt, but Jesus had to sweat blood and tears in Gethsemane to find the true way forward. A fanatic willingly consigns all his opponents to hell, but Jesus prayed even on the cross for his persecutors. A fanatic’s first loyalty is to ideas not people, but Jesus was loyal to his Father and to the men and women the Father sent him to save, not to ideology.

           In stressful times Christians all over the country and all over the world are finding ways to be faithful in the midst of a pandemic. Some are the brave front line medics. Other are helping isolated neighbours to get food and basic essentials, while many more are simply good shepherds to their family cooped up at home. As we celebrate the street–comedy of that first Palm Sunday we ask for the strength to remain faithful, in hope and in love, to the One who first loved us.                    

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