Holy Week: Palm Sunday
“And many believed in him.” —John 10:31-42.
We are approaching one of the holiest times of the Christian year, appropriately named Holy Week. In preparing for this time, our tradition suggests the sacrament of the reconciliation of a penitent. Today I share with you the rough draft of my confession of the ups and downs of my relationship with God, looking through the lens of the Stations of the Cross.
Today, on Palm Sunday, we will read the Passion Gospel in Luke; and on Good Friday we will hear the Passion Gospel from John. Many congregations have also been reading Luke during Lent, and this week we will be reading part of that Gospel’s Passion narrative.
I imagine myself as so many of the players in this extraordinary drama. Come with me and see if you as well have a part to play. I have been Judas and betrayed Jesus for politics and money. At the same time, I have also had the privilege for eighteen years of preparing Christ’s supper. Jesus has washed my feet. I have sung hymns with him on the way to mountaintops. I have publicly declared Jesus as my God in front of large groups of people. I have prayed with Christ and fallen asleep, either literally or by staying unconscious to the present moment. I have figuratively cut off ears defending him in my zeal.
I have been Nicodemus coming to him secretly at night and speaking out for him in ways that would keep me safe. I have given false witness against him by making my plan his plan. I have been Peter and denied my God more than three times. I have spat on him and mocked him by my actions. I have been Pilate’s wife receiving dreams that tell me that God is among us. I have been Pilate and washed my hands of situations when I should have spoken out for what I knew in my heart was wrong.
I have been Barabbas, the criminal who was freed, and did not have to face the consequence of my sins. I have been privileged to wipe the face of God present in so many others in pain. I have perhaps been Simon of Cyrene and carried another’s cross for brief periods of time. I have been among the women who followed Jesus from Galilee and looked helplessly on his crucifixion from a distance. I have been the thief on the cross crying out for God’s mercy in my distress. I have been the other thief on the cross still trying to tell God what God should do to relieve my pain.
I have been the centurion at Jesus’ death, finally recognizing God in the lives of so many only after they have died. I have been Joseph of Arimathea and found a resting place for Jesus. I have been one of the spice-bearing women at the empty tomb still looking for God. I have been Mary Magdalene in the garden, searching for God and not recognizing him.
I close with an invitation to take again this Holy Week journey. I hear there is a surprise ending.
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