April 1, 2012: Palm/Passion Sunday
Pressing Palms and Passion into one liturgy is enough to give a Christian vertigo on a Sunday like this. As my mother-in-law says, “We’re trying to pour ten pounds of sugar into a five pound bag.” Why do we wave palms, hear the crucifixion story, and leave in abject silence on this day – as if we don’t how the story ends? Can’t we do one or the other?Some find all this is too mournful and sad. Faith should be comforting and uplifting. Palm waving and triumph are more like it. Jesus’ death is too cruel and violent. So, many will wait out Holy Week for Easter.
Some believe the cross is how Jesus makes a blood offering to satisfy God who then forgives our sin. If we believe this, we get to heaven.
Sorry – it’s not about us or what we believe. It’s about God – God’s revelation of divine love. To know that divine love fully, we first must experience the entire story, so we can know how to believe – but even more how to trust so our belief makes sense. Honestly, it’s a strange story because we don’t think this way. Cross a line, step on toes – the first response is to get even. But in this story, we see that nothing we can do will stop God’s love and mercy for given everyone.
The cross exposes our evil, ignorance, cruelty, injustice and wickedness that lurks within and can break loose not just against one another, but even Jesus. Only those who will let this story pour over, knock them down, take our breath away, can come to feel gratitude, sorrow, self-remorse and love, and see the enormity of God’s love and forgiveness. At the cross God lets us see our worst.
But again, it’s not about us. It’s God’s next move we need to see – God’s everlasting love shining over our sin and failure, saving us from ourselves for Him, because that’s what we most need. That’s the true triumph of this day – God’s.