For my message today, I am revisiting the message I wrote for Palm Sunday last year for I feel it still says all that needs to be said.
One night at choir practice, which seems like more than an eternity ago, Don asked us if we thought Palm Sunday service should be a celebration or a somber event. Most of us said we thought it should be a celebration. But if you think about the week after Palm Sunday, then one could see why it could be a somber event.
In the time of Jesus, it definitely was a time of celebration. Jesus and his disciples were on their way into the city of Jerusalem. People were lining the road. They were excited because they heard that Jesus, the son of David was coming. They laid down their cloaks and cut branches to lie down on the road, giving Jesus a path to follow. They were waving palm branches and cheering “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord”. It was a big celebration for someone very important. I am not sure if they even noticed that Jesus came in riding on a donkey when a white stallion would have been more significant. I did a little research about why ride a donkey rather than a horse. A donkey is an instrument of peace where a horse is an instrument of war. It makes sense then that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and not a white stallion. Jesus was an instrument of peace.
When Jesus got into the city, it was in turmoil and people were asking “Who is this?” The crowds were saying “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Most of the people there weren’t aware of what was to happen in the week ahead. So of course, it was a time of celebration and joy. Jesus, however, did know what was to happen in the week ahead. Did He try to convince the people that they shouldn’t be celebrating? I think not.
Now for us today, we do know what was to happen in the week ahead. The celebration and joy of Jesus coming into Jerusalem would soon pass. He would be betrayed, persecuted, and sentenced to die on the cross next to common thieves. So it is no wonder that people of today could believe that Palm Sunday should be a somber event. Why celebrate when you know that the week ahead was to bring such terrible things. One could liken Palm Sunday to a funeral, with sadness and feelings of great dread.
But what is a funeral really supposed to be. Isn’t it a celebration of someone’s life? Yes, there is sadness, yes there could be anger, but overall it is a celebration, a way to remember that person who was an important part of our lives. So, even though there was darkness and death coming in the week ahead, Palm Sunday was a celebration. We should be waving our palms and shouting Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna! Yes, there would be dark days ahead for Jesus and the disciples and all the people who believed that Jesus was a prophet. But the end result was what happens on Easter morning. Jesus rose.
So I think Palm Sunday should be a day of celebration. We should wave our palm fronds and shout “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” Yes, Jesus died on the cross but who did He die for? He died for you and for me and for all who believe in Him as our Savior. Yes, He did die but He rose again so we all may have eternal live. How much more important could one person be in our lives.
As this time of uncertainty continues, we are all still subject to having dark days. We feel lost, we may feel helpless, and mostly we may be angry. We may wonder when will this ever end. But we need to remember that starting with today this is Holy week and we need to remember what Jesus went through in that week. But at the end of the week He rose and we are blessed to be His followers. This time of uncertainty shall pass and we can go back to our normal lives or maybe a better version of our normal lives with more compassion, patience, and love for those around us.
Here I would like to interject a portion of the message from the last mini Lenten service. The topic was peace and we all gave our thoughts on peace based on John 14:27
John 14: 27 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid.
When I think of peace, I think that it means that the fighting has stopped, there is calm, there is kindness, there is love, there is forgiveness. Unfortunately, it is rare to have that peace. Family members get stressed and then fight with each other. People with differing views say harsh, hurting words and even take it further and do bodily harm to the ones that don’t agree with their views. Those that govern our communities, our states, and our country can’t agree on what is best for the people they serve. It continues on to the different countries of our world. There is turmoil; there is chaos in so many lives. What has happened to the peace? Where did it go?
The peace that we as humans have can be so temporary. We are at peace with each other and then something flares and that peace is gone. Forgotten is the calm, the kindness, the love, the forgiveness.
The peace that Jesus gives us is not temporary; it is not controlled by tempers or harsh words. It is everlasting. Part of the verse that I just read says “I do not give to you as the world gives.” The peace that is given to us by Jesus is different. It is driven by His love for us, all of us. It does not matter who we are, what color our skin is, whether we are rich or poor, or any of the other things that so many of us use to decide how we will treat a person. The peace of Jesus is all inclusive. The kindness of Jesus is all inclusive. The love of Jesus is all inclusive. The forgiveness of Jesus is all inclusive.
As we come closer to the end of the Lenten season, it is a good time for us to reflect on the peace that Jesus gives us. The peace that is everlasting if we keep our hearts and minds turned to Jesus. May we work towards making our peace that is so temporary, more like the peace that Jesus gives us. The peace that is calm, the peace that is filled with kindness, the peace that is filled with love, and the peace that is filled with forgiveness. What a better life we all would have if we could be more like Jesus. What a better world it would be if we could be more like Jesus.
May the peace of Jesus fill our hearts and our minds. May we remember that Jesus came to earth not just for you and for me but for all of us. He lived, He taught, He died, and then He rose to give us all eternal life.
I encourage you to use today as a day of celebration but remember the significance of Palm Sunday and remember to let the peace of Jesus fill your heart and minds. Be happy, dance in your house, or in your yard. Sing out at the top of your lungs. Remember that we are celebrating the life of someone very important to us, Jesus Christ our Savior.