Palm Sunday re-visited

Palm Sunday - He Qi

(Palm Sunday – He Qi)

Today we have celebrated Palm Sunday. Once again I am intrigued by how chaotic and awkward the worship can feel.  It can be a stretch to ‘connect the dots’ between triumphal entry and brutal death. Too much for one service, we attempt a flow of worship, where it appears none was intended. Frustrated – we force this story and its impact to fit our worship service and self-created time restraint.

The service for Palm Sunday is overwhelming. Even if the church designed this service to pack in the whole story, it could be the best way to begin Holy Week. On this day we enter a week filled with confusion, fear, pain and celebration. Was it not chaos for all involved during that week? Jesus had tried to explain all that was to come. But    among this glorious entry into the city of ‘all that was sacred’, an entry that sung of victory and God’s blessing – who could have imagined that all would turn so horrible and tragic. The chaos certainly was overwhelming. Packed into a week – they went from certainty to despair.

And so packed into an hour and a half we, as followers of Jesus, share in this heart wrenching confusion – we enter with palms waving and exit in silent, somber awe. Exhausted we leave – wondering how all of these moments can happen so quickly.

Whether it is in an hour or a week, the moments happen quickly for they are out of our control, then and now. We walk the road this next week, invited to gather for the sacred meal, stay alert in the garden and know the sound of death’s silence. We know our hearts will rise with a dawn’s sun but for this moment we are invited to join in the journey of these six days. It does not matter how often you have experienced this Holy Week – the road is filled with new images and insights. Stay alert for the moments pass quickly.

 

(a re-written re-post)

Before daybreak

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We listened as did his disciples. He tried to prepare us for the events to come. We experienced the emotional spin of a final meal, a betrayal and anxious hours of waiting.   

These minutes seem like years. We walk the dusty road in dis-belief. No sun light, only a sky filled with clouds of anger and heavy hearts. When ‘it is finished’ all is silent.

We hear this deafening silence. All that promised a New Way recedes into a hollowed stone – the grave of our hope sacrificed. 

Alone- we stand together. The ashes lay before us. There is no stirring of a Phoenix, no thought of what is to come.

Unlike those nearest Jesus, we know that tomorrow’s sunrise will bring life anew. Yet it is important to stay present to this ‘time in between’. For only on this day can we ask – what impact does tomorrow’s daybreak have on our own faith and witness? 

May your reflections bring strength on this Holy Saturday. 

To follow and lead…

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It is the early morning of Palm Sunday. Believing in the God of creation, we come to this day knowing how Jesus’ time on earth brought hope and promise to the depressed, the sick and outcast. Through his life and actions we learn that God’s kingdom is among us. Heavens doors are open wide awaiting a time future. Yet that kingdom is also here, in this place and moment.
This day begins a week filled with mystery. Sometimes we enter Holy Week with clear focus on the direction we are to take and other times we move one foot in front of the other with little sense of where we are to go next. Yet forward we go, the path only known through our relationship with an ever creating God.
God incarnate came among us. Our call to follow is filled with inspiration and instinct. From this Sunday onward we learn not only about the cost of following but also the call to lead.
The dance to follow and lead is found throughout nature. God’s creation is filled with movement and relationship. May we be inspired to move through this week renewed with the steps of a follower and given the insight of a leader.
May we trust the Spirit to move us swiftly and with confidence. May we take our inspiration from nature which knows how to lead and follow with grace and purpose.

Murmuration- a flock of starlings – On Being

A life full of moments

images-3     the beauty of moments – is that you never know – when you are making – a cherished memory.

Moments with Millie (Millie Mestril)

These words have become as a mantra preparing me for this Holy Week. It is ancient truth spoken again by a creative and ever-wise friend – many moments pass while we hurry to move through the hours and days of life. More often than not the moments that become most cherished are discovered as we look back. To be aware of ‘the now’ is not an easy task! It takes a discipline that requires a certain way of living where time is set apart for meditation and prayer. Most of us struggle to find enough hours in a day. The world spins at a speed on which we can barely balance. Even so each moment remains unto itself – a single instant, a deep breath.

Holy Week is an excellent time to consider the role and importance of cherished memories. The moments we have lived that remain in our hearts and minds, remain as markers in our growth and insight.

During these few holy days we are gifted with examples of how a flash of time is transformed into an event remembered forever. I have often wondered if the people surrounding Jesus understood the importance of paying attention  as he entered Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. Paying attention was important for everyone throughout his ministry; yet in the last week, days and minutes of Christ’s earthly presence what he said and did overflowed with meaning. I wonder if any of his faithful friends and followers were able to ‘see’ that what was happening would change their lives forever.

They were human, consumed with the anticipation of God’s important event. Each imagined that event through their own passionate hopes. Each were left breathless to the outcome. Victory and freedom had not been expected to occur in the brutal death of their beloved leader, teacher and friend. In the days to follow their memories would become the encouragement, inspiration and strength to continue on The Way.

May this week offer time for you to think about the moments, past and present, that are your encouragement and inspiration.

The Path of Palm Sunday

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I offer a previously written reflection as it remains true for today. Welcome to Holy Week.

This day is always filled with confusion and inspiration. Its chaos and its strange, awkward flow – always challenge liturgists who strive to ‘connect the dots’ between triumphal entry and brutal death. Too much for one service we try to create a flow of worship, where it appears none was intended. Frustrated – we force this story and its impact to fit our form and time.

It is chaos — and yet, when I step back from the function, I sense a possible reason. Was it not chaos for all involved during that week? Who knew – disciples and all the hopeful – that this glorious entry into the city of all that was sacred, an entry that sung of victory and God’s blessing – who knew all would turn so horrible and tragic. The chaos must have been overwhelming. Packed into a week – they went from certainty to despair. Packed into an hour and a half we share that sense of wrenching confusion – we enter with palms waving and exit in silent awe. Exhausted we leave – wondering how all of these moments can happen so quickly.

Our time of wonder is as long as a life. We walk the road this next week, feeling the connection, the compassion and the violent shift. May there be insights in these days, hours and moments. May we realize all creation’s role as God enters our own sacred places.

For Palm Sunday, a poem by Mary Oliver

The Poet Thinks about the Donkey

On the outskirts of Jerusalem

the donkey waited.

Not especially brave, or filled with understanding,

he stood and waited.

*

How horses, turned out into the meadow,
leap with delight!

How doves, released from their cages,

clatter away, splashed with sunlight!

*

But the donkey, tied to a tree as usual, waited.

Then he let himself be led away.

Then he let the stranger mount.

*

Never had he seen such crowds!

And I wonder if he at all imagined what was to happen.

Still, he was what he had always been: small, dark, obedient.

*

I hope, finally he felt brave.

I hope, finally, he loved the man who rode so lightly upon him,

as he lifted one dusty hoof and stepped, as he had to, forward.

 

What is courage?

Courage is simply doing what is right in spite of being afraid.

(taken from (HAVE A DREAM…) – an inspiring and enriching blog)

What a perfect quote for this night! There is little way to really know what it must felt like for Jesus to “simply” do what was right. We are given clues to his honest struggle the hours before his arrest.

These last few moments are raw with emotion. Jesus asked for support through the alert presence of those who joined him in that garden. In the end even this was a challenge! The disciples could not stay awake.

Yet he still asked – in tender, honest and finally frustrated words, Jesus reminds us of the natural desire for companionship during difficult times. He did not hide his fear yet when the time came he stood with courage to face his future.

On this eve of Good Friday, I feel that call to stay alert. Surrounded by a group of God’s faithful, I sit in church or chapel offering my attempt to be present to these moments. It is such a simple thing to do – right?

Courage is experienced through his actions – to do what is right. when the words of prayer run dry, I give thanks for the words and melody of the following Taize hymn.

Stay Here With Me

May we find the courage to share our own devotion by word and, more important, by example.

Entering Holy Week

I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars. Og Mandino

Journeys can be so confusing. Even when we are following a trusted guide, it is not always clear as to where we are going and why. Our expectations need to be re-examined and adjusted.

Entering this Holy Week, I am once again reminded of how life’s journey so often takes unforeseen turns. Throughout all of his ministry, Jesus spoke of the difficult times ahead. As he and his disciples approached Jerusalem for the celebration of Passover, all expectations for true triumph were at their highest point.

How could they know what was to happen? Even though Jesus had told them to prepare for grieving and hardship – how could they have ever imagined the events that were so near? They were filled with memories of miracles and inclusion, inspired by direct teaching and entrusted to be the ambassadors of God’s Good News. Everything pointed toward a new way, supported and encouraged by God’s presence among them.

And… they were right to anticipate a radical shift in living and believing. Through the passage of time, Jesus’ example would continue to inspire and direct the faithful to share, by word and example, another way of living in this world. A way that would raise our attentions to justice and draw our actions to mercy.

But first… Jesus would lead them through a time – dark and tragic. The path on this journey was set. It would be a while before ‘hope’ would lift the darkness and shed the light of faith’s resurrection.20120402-044651.jpg

The week has begun. Jerusalem’s gates have welcomed Jesus, his beloved friends and followers. We, too, find ourselves in the mix, with our own expectations. May we be open to unforeseen turns and welcome new revelations.