Today we remember that Jesus’ entered Jerusalem to cries of Hosanna, meaning “save, we pray!” Hosanna is also interpreted to mean blessed as well. The messiah enters the holy city at the start of the festival of Passover to save and to bless – but not in any way that people might have imagined. We are also called to consider how we will enter into Jerusalem ourselves.
What are our hopes, dreams, beliefs, and prayers today? Do we cry out for Jesus to “save, we pray?” Do we cry out to be bless or be blessed? Do we believe that Jesus will , or in fact, has already, saved us? Or are we just showing up because they are giving out free palms? How will we enter Jerusalem?
If you went to or will go to mass on Palm Sunday you will be blessed by the Sprinkling Rite at the beginning of the liturgy, as the priest, deacons, or others go around the church with Holy Water. Will you wince when you are sprayed, or will you rejoice as you enter Jerusalem?
Why not wince? We are washing in the waters of baptism not to be cleansed but to die with Christ. Wince-worthy, no? And when you consider that we are about to partake in the Passion this morning, detailing those last moments and what led up to them, I’d say wincing is pretty natural.
This is when I think of one of my favorite quotations, from Margaret Guenther who says, “Despite all our attempts at domestication, God deals in surprises.” We are here to celebrate, and even though we always know the end of the story before it begins, it can be difficult for us to embrace the surprise of death that God deals via the crucifixion. Will we be wincing or rejoicing?
So while we wince, may we also rejoice. We know the story but we must also live our own story in Christ. Will we go willingly, triumphantly even – entering in wild procession with people yelling for us, crying out? Jesus did this, even if many, if not most of those same people were shouting “crucify him” soon thereafter. Will we go forth rejoicing knowing that eternal life has already been won for us?
Today as we celebrate Palm Sunday, may we enter into death with the fullness of faith that assures us that life will prevail. We may hate the crucifixion, especially our own daily (often self-inflicted) crucifixions, yet we know that in Jesus are saved, blessed, and given new life. May we hold the tension between these two dissonant poles as we enter into Holy Week, because without each side of the equation, we miss the great gifts of life and death and life that have been given to us by God.
Oh, were it only so easy… I feel my own wincing coming on, as I enter Jerusalem once again.