Thoughts on Palm Sunday

Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, the colt or foal of a donkey, with the people waving palm fronds and laying their outer cloaks on the ground before him, is commemorated on Palm Sunday. Well aware of the political storm gathering against him, Jesus has tried to prepare his closest followers for the inevitable as he rides directly into harm’s way to celebrate Passover as the Law of Moses dictated, fulfill the words of the prophets before him, and demonstrate the infinite extent of his Father’s love.

Symbolically, the donkey shows Jesus coming as a king of peace–in the ancient world, if he were coming to bring war, he would ride a horse. Jesus is fulfilling the words of the prophet Zechariah here, but also showing us once again the nature of his mission: to bring spiritual peace and liberation–not political or physical. The palms are the ancient symbol of triumph and victory; to the ancient Hebrews, the date palm was also the symbol of peace and abundance. To wave the palms before a king, to cover his way with cloaks and palm branches was to recognize his authority and power over his people.

 

Save Us Now!

The shouts of “hosanna,” or as transliterated directly from the Hebrew “hoshiia na,” which from Psalm 118 translates, “save us now, we beseech you.” The people were begging Jesus to save them. The question remains for them and for us–save us from what? Each of the principal groups of people watching this spectacle had their own agendas and expectations built over Jesus’ ministry. The Romans were concerned with maintaining peace and an unbroken flow of taxes and other resources from the region; the Jewish authorities were also concerned with maintaining the status quo and their own power base built on temple, law, and Roman permission; the Zealots and common people dreamed of liberation from Rome’s occupation; Jesus’ followers looked to securing places of honor and authority when Jesus established his own reign and Kingdom. If any of these groups had been really paying attention, they would have realized that Jesus was neither threat nor political savior. If they had taken to heart the significance of the young donkey he rode and years of teaching, they would have realized that Jesus’ kingdom was not of this world, but pointed in a completely different direction.

In order to enter the real Kingdom of Heaven, the life right herenow to which Jesus beckons, we must pay close attention and begin to see him as the savior he intends to be, not the one we expect or wish him to be. The tragedy of Palm Sunday two thousand years ago, as Luke narrates, is that the people did not recognize the hour of their visitation–they didn’t see Jesus as he was, but only as a reflection of their own desires and agendas. Their tragedy is still ours today. Jesus didn’t come to meet our expectations, but to give us an invitation to see, really see God as God is.

 

Meaning of Holy Week

Palm Sunday is the first day of Holy Week, and liturgically, each day of Holy Week has a name and Gospel passages traditionally associated with it that follow the story of Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem before his death and resurrection. But digging deeper, each set of Gospel passages has deeper meaning that follows Jesus’ and our own progress along his Way to Kingdom and Father. Here on day one, Palm Sunday, we find the call to see beyond ourselves, our egoic self, our agendas, desires, expectations, our programs for happiness and survival set in place early in our lives: all of which obscure the truth and reality of this moment, the only moment that exists, the moment of our visitation.

Why does Jesus repeatedly hammer home this concept to his followers in both word and deed and in different metaphors and imagery: sell all you have, lose your life, deny yourself, pick up your cross, the sign of Jonah? Because this first day, this first step along the Way, is the constricted gate that precedes the narrow Way to truth. Until the gate is negotiated, until we can see past ourselves and our obsessions and compulsions enough to be aware of this lived moment of visitation, no further progress is possible.

Every moment is Palm Sunday…Jesus is always riding into our lives with his radical invitation to see what is right before our eyes. Are we ready to see? We’ll only know for sure when we are ready to let go of every expectation and desire that blinds us to what really is–way, truth, life.

Matt 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19; Zechariah 9:9-10; Psalm 118:24-26

We hope these readings and short comments help prepare you this week for Resurrection Day next Sunday. If you’d like to dig even further, here is a daily devotional for Holy Week with some really nice elements.

Stay Connected!

Don’t miss the latest news and updates from our faith community, designed to keep you inspired and motivated.

Latest News

Upcoming events, announcements, ministry updates, blogs.

Message Archive

Watch us live online, watch and listen to archived messages and gatherings.

Personal Stories

Stories from people who’ve experienced the effect of theeffect in their lives.

Everyone is recovering from something… Admitting this is the first step in spiritual life, because any unfinished business in our lives–trauma, unforgiveness, fear-based perceptions–fosters compulsive behavior and keeps us from connecting spiritually and emotionally.

Since we’re all recovering, we accept everyone right as they are—no expiration dates or deadlines. We don’t tell anyone what to believe or do. We present points of view that we hope will engage seekers in their own journey; help them unlearn limiting perceptions, beliefs, and compulsions; give opportunities to get involved in community, building the trust we all need to find real identity, meaning, and purpose. In other words, to engage the transforming Way of living life that Jesus called Kingdom…non-religiously understood from a first century Hebrew point of view.

 

SEE MORE

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Embedded in the fun and laughter of each of our gatherings and events is the connection and accountability as well as the structure, discipline, and opportunity for service that authentic community is all about. We help create programs for physical support, emotional recovery, and spiritual formation that can meet any person’s needs. Such programs work at two levels: first to address a person’s physical and emotional stability—clinical, financial, relational,professional—anything that distracts from working on the second level: true spiritual formation centered around the contemplative way of life defined by an original Hebrew understanding of the message of Jesus.

Rather than telling people what to believe or think, we model and encourage engagement in a personal and communal spiritual journey that allows people to experience their own worthiness of connection and acceptance, to find the freedom from underlying fears that brings real meaning and purpose into focus.

 

Effect in Action

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Seeing ourselves as a learning and recovery community that worships together, the focus isn’t on Sunday morning alone, but on every day of the week as we gather for worship, healing and support workshops, studies, 12 step meetings, counseling and mentoring sessions, referral services, and social events. We maintain a food pantry for those needing more support, a recovery worship gathering, and child care for those with little ones.

Our Sunday gathering starts at 10AM and our Recovery gathering on Tuesdays at 7PM. Both gatherings include worship with one of the best worship bands in the area. See our monthly calendar and our Facebook page to stay in touch with what is happening each week. You can also sign up on our elist for email enews updates.

 

Join Us

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This
X