Palm Sunday 9 April 2017 What procession would you like to attend? On January 20th, a new president was sworn in during an inauguration ceremony that was well planned and orchestrated. Invitations were sent out in advance and you had to have connections to get a ticket. Dances and other festivities followed. I don’t know what happened since I didn’t watch any of it. The next day a semi-spontaneous event occurred when the Women’s March took place in the same space, and in fact in hundreds of spaces around the country and around the world. It was one of the largest gatherings ever, probably 3x as many people on the Mall as the day before, and if you count all the people around the United States who took part locally it was the largest event of its kind ever held. It even became a global event. But as change moves slowly it remains to be seen which event will be the most important historically. It looks like Palm Sunday gives you two choices for parades, or since that is most likely a more modern concept, processions. You could go to the gate where Pontius Pilate is entering, riding his warhorse, with a retinue of Roman soldiers. I don’t know how long the procession would have been, but I do know Pilate came with the Legion to make sure order was kept during the Passover. A display of significant armed force was needed to remind people who was in charge and who had the wealth. We also know that on this day another sovereign entered the city. He rode, not on a warhorse, but a donkey, and came in almost alone, with no large retinue and certainly no soldiers. Yet here were people spreading their garments on the ground and spreading branches from the trees in front of him. A strange way for a sovereign to enter the center of the realm, don’t you think? No Airforce One or helicopter, not even a fancy chariot with streamers on it!! But it gets at the heart of what God is saying to us, God’s people. The Hebrew scriptures tell us that a good earthly ruler is one who looks after all his or her people and makes sure that the least and the greatest receive justice and that no one is in want. And now we see the start of God’s doing a new thing in the world, but bringing in a king who does perfectly what God asks and who broods over God’s people. But we know that there is resistance to that way of being in the world. As the Hebrew people turned again and again from their God, we do the same. But this is Lent and Holy Week and this is a time we can once again ponder the choices we can make. Donkey or warhorse? As I asked of you on Ash Wednesday to lead a holy life in Lent, so I ask you during Holy Week to live a holy existence and to embrace the King who rides on a donkey and will give up his life willingly.
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