The Beginning of the End *and* the Beginning
As we enter into Holy Week, we reflect on Palm Sunday, and why we celebrate it, living our voices and our palm branches high.
The Beginning of the End and the Beginning
April 13, 2014
Rev. Leanne Masters
Southern Heights Presbyterian Church
It started out just like any other day during the celebration of the festival of Passover. People had come from all over to celebrate the great festival of Passover, the days when the people of Israel came together to solemnly remember the power of God that brought them out from slavery in Egypt, to retell the story that the people carried with them of the legacy of that power.And yet, in the midst of all of that, there had to have been this sense that there was something...different...something powerful that was about to happen.
The whispers went through the crowd:
There is a man coming. That man that we’ve heard about. That man that we’ve seen. That man that does wonderous and miraculous acts in the name of God.
Maybe this is the man that we’ve been waiting for. Maybe, just maybe, he is the King, the Redeemer, that we have been promised that will bring us out from underneath the thumb of Rome. Maybe. He could be. He has to be!
Soon, the whispers became spoken aloud as people realized...He is here. He is here. He is here!
The electric excitement took off throughout the crowd, and many gathered around the gate, the entrance to the city where they had learned this man would be coming through as he came in to celebrate and to demonstrate God’s power for the people.
And the people cut down branches from the trees and took off their cloaks to lay down before him, in homage and in praise to God’s anointed, appointed one.
And the words became shouts. Shouts of praise. Shouts of adoration. Shouts of celebration. Yes, he is the Messiah! Yes, he is the ONE! Yes! He has come!
The people were excited, because they thought that this Passover celebration would be like no other...a Passover where they would again be delivered from the oppressor
But, no one could have predicted how wrong and yet how right they were.
No one could have predicted how the story would unfold.
We, on the other hand, know exactly how this story will unfold...we know that whispers were happening in other areas of the city: There is a man here, now. He is a menace, he is a danger to us all. He is a problem that must be taken care of, eliminated...immediately.
We know that those whispers would become words, spoken in plans of betrayal and arrest, and then in interrogation: Do you mean to try to overthrow Rome’s rule and take over? Do you mean to say that you...you, a mere carpenter from Nazareth...claim to be the King? What do you plan to do?
We know that those words will become shouts, as the crowd is turned against him, and he is brought before them to die. We know that those shouts will echo throughout the land and throughout time: Crucify! Crucify! CRUCIFY!
We know that by the end of this week, the man who was a teacher, a friend, and a comfort to so many would hang on the cross: betrayed, humiliated, and abandoned.
We know that this day of celebration is the beginning of the end for Jesus.
And yet we still gather on this day to celebrate. We still gather to shout our words and our songs of praise. We still gather to spread our branches and our cloaks and our lives at Jesus’ feet. We still celebrate, because we know, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story...that this story does not end with the end of Jesus’ life on this earth.
We celebrate because we know that through walking with Jesus through the end, starting with today and throughout the whole of Holy Week and on into Easter Sunday, we experience the beginning of something new...the beginning of that great story of God’s power and redemption and deliverance in our lives and in the world.
This day of celebration is only the beginning. Throughout this week, let us gather together to walk through the whole of the story.
Let us whisper: There is this man...come to do great things...
Let us speak: ...these great things will be for us and for our children and for our children’s children and for the whole of the world...we will see it, we will experience it...we will know it!
And let us shout: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!