Hold Tight to your Palms

EASTER SERVICE is at 9am. Easter Egg Hunt at 9:15am (outdoor hunt; weather permitting). Sunrise Service at 6:05am (rain, snow, or shine; no zoom). All are Welcome to join us.

The waving of the palms is a reminder of who we want to be.  It is easy to get lost in the crowd.  In the City.  It is easy to get dragged along by the collective energy of a crowd. 

As we walk into the City, I hold my palm and want to be the person who offers up the donkey.  Sure, here are the keys to my donkey, if you need a ride.  I want to be the person who celebrates the Goodness in this world.  That waves the palms and cheers to Good and Kind and Gentle and Humble.  I want to be the person that listens to the Teacher and takes in the lessons to be that person the teacher knows is in me.  I want to know when to cheer, when to follow, when to step away, and when to step up and step in.  I want to answer the call to be good and kind and gentle and humble.  To tend and care and share.  

That’s what I want to remember when I hold my palm on Palm Sunday.  When I carry my palm home.  Who, in this crazy crowd, do I want to be?  And how can I better have ComPassion for those who get lost along the way (perhaps, myself included).  

There are loads of people in the City. All with different agendas and ideas.  Perhaps, this moment is a reminder of the importance of the small people.  And maybe it’s a warning of what happens when we hide or get carried away by the crowds.  Rarely are we the the person we want to be when it starts to get loud.  That’s usually when things start to get out of control.  We are led to be out of control and because everyone else is doing it, it seems okay.  

As we wave palms and sing and celebrate, we are cautioned to pause and to listen to the lessons.  

Jesus knows what he is walking toward, yet he still walks forward.  He still follows his path and his truth and his destiny.  

Was he anxious?  Was he worried?  Was he hurting?  Was he afraid?  Did he feel alone?  Yes.  And yes.  “Take this cup away.”  “Stay awake with me.”  The temptation of the desert, “go ahead, leap and God will catch you, do it” is less about the testing God, and more about, deep loneliness and calling on God for the wrong reasons and to not fully trust that God is there at all times, even when unseen.

Yet, Jesus does not fall into temptation.  Some of the most beautiful and poignant moments come this week.  The washing of the feet.  The anointing.  The supper.  The preciousness of living and loving.  Remembering to touch one another.  Remembering to eat together and drink together.  Remembering to celebrate Goodness.  

We hold palms and celebrate Goodness, Truth, and Courage.  We stand at the threshold of a divided City and know that this division is within us.  We know this division all around us.  Hope and Love and Faith. That’s Jesus.  Fear, helplessness, pain, loneliness.  That is too, but it doesn’t define him.  

Jesus walks. Though the hard stuff and toward the fullness of self, the fullness of humanity, and the fullness of Grace.  

These division are within Jesus, within the City, and within us.  We have echoes of the Passion and suffering in our own lives on the path each one of us is called to walk.  We are showed the way to walk through it all.  Watch this week…

The only way through is to continue to walk through.  It’s all too easy to walk away or hide away, or let temptations distract us.  It is easy to ignore a bigger call to compassion, kindness, love, peace, and grace.  The slower, quieter paths.  

It’s really easy, to see people as “bad” and hopeless.  It’s harder to see within them the same weaknesses that we have.  It’s easy to label and turn away.  “Bad people”.  Wrong.  Not me.  And not something, someone, I need to tend to.  

We often resist seeing others as just as human as us.  

Caiaphas. He was a good man.  He simply couldn’t see any other way.  He sees only that Jesus is distracting people from the “right way of faith” and drawing the attention of the Romans.  He is both afraid and rigid. To him, the Temple ways are the only way and he cannot see past that to do what is harder, but is right.  He takes the rigid route.  

Pilate.  He takes the easy road. He doesn’t want to kill Jesus, but he is afraid to let him go.  So he “washes his hands” of him.  He makes Jesus not his problem, and lets other people decide, because he does not want to risk losing his power.  The easy thing to do was to give the problem to someone else and pretend he tried.  He takes the cowardly route.  

Judas.  His flaw?  Things weren’t happening fast enough.  He was impatient. He wanted things to be better now.  He thought they (he) had done enough work and it was time for reward.  PAUSE.  His basic flaw was impatience.  

Skeptics couldn’t escape their own pride or fear of begin “wrong” about Jesus to do the right thing.  The soldiers were simply keeping the peace of the City for the “greater good”.  The people on the streets…just felt small and insignificant and hid away. How often do we choose safety over right?  Or pride and skepticism over kindness?  

How about those people who live simple lives and just build…crosses?  How often do we say: if I don’t do it, someone else will, so I might as well make the money I need doing this thing I know will cause harm.  

Just. Just rigidly right.  Just afraid.  Just impatient.  Just skeptical. Just trying the keep the peace.  Just doing my job.  Just…

The world is paved with good intentions.  We like to demonize others so that we don’t have to look into the mirrors they hold up.  But we cannot fix what we cannot see.  Where we’re rigidly right. Where we’re afraid. Where we’re impatient.  Where we take the easy route or ignore the long term consequences of our actions (or inactions).  

We see each of these characteristics in Jesus this week.  He is afraid and yet doesn’t hide or run away.  He is impatient, and yet takes the cup.  He is lonely, and yet is still tender. He is betrayed and still loves.  

This week we see all of human weakness at play.  It is in the midst of these weaknesses, Jesus shows us how to walk the path of Passion into a life of Compassion. 

Within us are all these mingled sides.  We get to choose who to be.  We can choose to look inside for faith, hope, love, and peace.  We can unite and connect, not hate, judge, and divide.  Even in the darkness, we can take the route that’s not easy…but right.  

As we head into holy week, hold tight to your palms.  Remember the person we are called to be.  The community we are called to be as the hands of Grace in this world.  Let us find the Grace within.  The grace to be beacons of light and hope and peace, especially in the darkest of times. 

Hold tight to your palms and Remember.  

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