Sixth Sunday of Lent 2019/Liturgy of the Palm & the Passion: The Gospel Passage – Good things have “arrived”!

After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.” (Luke 19:28)

As I quietly but firmly told the RCL, this week/Sunday is Palm Sunday and NOT the eve of Good Friday as the gospel passages for the liturgy of the Passion leads us to. Moreover (and probably more importantly to me) this portion of Luke fits into my theme for the week.

“When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.'” (Verses 29 – 31)

I have other years commented on the fact that Jesus “somehow” knew where the colt was and what would transpire. But it should be no surprise that the Divine knew all these things in advance, and it had been arranged for Jesus in advance. It does lead me to ask, however beloved reader, if you have made your arrangements for Lent? And just as importantly for Holy Week and Easter Sunday. In the realm of worship planning and leading services during Lent and Easter are planned out months in advance. Because the services are special and tied so intimately to a theme, care is taken and people are asked to prepare. There is value in last minute planning and trusting to the inspiration of the Spirit; but such “winging it” tends to run counter to some faith traditions. The RCL is proof of such meticulous planning and adhering to patterns laid down centuries ago. But I digress . . . . on to my theme

“So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.” (Verses 32 – 35)

Palm Sunday can be seen as the culmination of Jesus popularity amongst some sections and people of Jerusalem. It is also the phenomenon of group-think and impulsive behavior. The disciples were celebrating Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, maybe thinking he was going to finally face down the Pharisees and such ilk who have been hounding Jesus throughout his ministry. Or maybe it is just that many people in era like a good parade!

“As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” (Verses 36 – 38)

Or maybe it was, as I spoke of earlier, the movement of the Spirit that swept through the populace – the “winging it” impulse that cause things great and momentous to spring forth and happen. I have some of my own “winging it” experiences in my history. But the truth is beloved reader, when we think we are acting in the moment and without any foundations laid out, the Spirit has already gone ahead and made holy preparations. We are just following in the footsteps that were destined for us.

“Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” (Verses 39 – 40)

Jesus has arrived in Jerusalem. And the end of things is coming. We know in another week things will look pretty grim. But today is a day of celebrating! Jesus has come into His Holy city and is welcomed with palms and praise. The Pharisees who tried to shut it down were silenced. Good things, in the form of Jesus Christ, have arrived. It is all celebration for now.

But we also know, beloved reader, that this arrival heralds even deeper and greater things are destined for the weeks ahead. Maybe not what all were expecting – but what all needed! Selah!


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