By Susan Ridgell
As a child, I was confused by Palm Sunday. It seemed like a mini-Easter, with triumphant All Glory, Laud, and Honor leading the way. I knew it wasn’t Easter. But there were palms waving. Palms – we only got those one Sunday a year, and waving them was fun, and worship seemed light and happy and cheery. It didn’t last the day. It didn’t last the service.
Throughout the 50 verses of John 12, we see public sentiment toward Jesus waxing and waning. They believe, then they don’t believe. Then we can’t tell whether they believe or not.
It’s preparation time for the Feast of the Passover. Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a young donkey as prophesied, and the people praise him, singing “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” The crowds heard that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and that meant he was a rock star. Even the Greeks want to see Jesus. The Pharisees don’t like it one bit. They say to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”
We don’t have to wait long before the tides turn. “Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him …” Jesus pleads with them to remember that he has come to give us light and take away the darkness. And he implores them to look to the Father.
How timeless the Gospel. How our own hearts and minds struggle. It’s 20 centuries later, and still we wax and wane. Even if we don’t count ourselves among the large numbers who select “none” in the much-publicized religion polls, we say “none” in other ways. Ponder the powerful words from My Song is Love Unknown: “Love to the loveless shown, that they might lovely be.” Let’s remember that Jesus brings light into any darkness. That means any darkness, no matter what. Light. And love.
We’re so deep in Lent now, it’s time for Palm Sunday. There’s a celebration before the storm, and we’ll see it happen on Palm Sunday. We’ll see the shift from waving palms and singing Hosanna! to something that takes us into darkness. I don’t know about you, but something about Palm Sunday makes me want to hold on tight.
And Lord have mercy.