April 9 , 2017
Reflection by Anna Jeide , currently serving with Lutheran Volunteer Corps
“ Christ became obedient to the point of death , even death on a cross . Because of this , God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name .”
The Palm Sunday text has always struck me as a bit strange , but I remember as a child that Palm Sunday was one of my favorite days of the liturgical year . The children lead a big procession through the congregation , waving our palm fronds . Some years , we even followed a donkey carrying whoever was playing Jesus . It was always a joyous celebration .
Yet , the celebration of Palm Sunday is short-lived , followed quickly by the betrayal on Maundy Thursday , the crucifixion on Good Friday . In my home church , we burn the palm fronds of Palm Sunday and use the remains for the imposition of ashes the following year on Ash Wednesday . This incineration of the palm fronds symbolizes , for me , how quickly this celebration of Jesus ’ entry into Jerusalem is forgotten .
The author of Matthew tells us the crowds praise Him singing “ Hosanna to the Son of David !” ( 2:9 ). At the same time “ the city was shaken ” ( 2:10 ). The NRSV version reads , “ When He entered Jerusalem , the whole city was in turmoil ” ( 2:11 ). If this is a celebration , why are the people uneasy ? Jesus enters on a donkey , not with the regal entrance that some may have expected . Does this humble entrance unnerve them ? After He enters Jerusalem , Jesus immediately enters to temple and drives out those who were using it as a market place , reclaiming that the temple is meant to be a holy place . Does his explicit proclamation make the people uncomfortable ? Perhaps they are confronted with their own complicity in sacrilegious action and would rather Jesus not call out their self-serving actions .
At the same time that people are “ shaken ,” they are also excited claiming “ Hosannas !” Were they swept up in being part of the crowd , caught up in momentum of such an exciting arrival ? Jesus knows that His entrance to Jerusalem will lead to His death , but what about the crowd ? Where are we in that crowd of people gathering fronds ? Are we excited for Jesus ’ arrival on Sunday , only to demand His crucifixion on Friday ?
Prince of Peace , Draw us near to You . Let not our hearts be bent by the whims of the crowds , Of discouraging news , Of protests , Or false prophets . Keep our eyes and our hearts ever focused on you . Remind us that we belong to your loving community and that we adhere to a higher calling , Your kingdom come , Your will , not our will , be done On earth as it is in heaven . Amen .
Focus on : Community : This passage prompts us to consider our commitment to Jesus . I think this text relates well to the pillar of community . I understand community to mean a commitment to one another , through the tough and joyous times . It can be easy to rejoice , but what happens when the going gets tough ? Where are the crowds of praise when Jesus hangs from a cross at Golgotha ? It seems to me that the people only want to praise Jesus when it is easy , safe , and popular . This is may be an ancient text , but the question is ever-present , where do we stand ? Are we in communion with Jesus ? Will we move with the whims of the crowd , or will we learn to stay true to our God ? Especially in challenging times when the voices of false prophets ring loud and demand our attention , we must choose to listen to the still small voice of our Lord . This season of Lent , what does it means for us to claim that we are followers of Jesus ? How do we commit to Jesus , to make the kingdom come ?
Service Inspiration : Whenever I need to see an example of a true follow of Jesus , I look to my grandparents . They have modeled what it means to rely on God in times of uncertainty , and in times of unpopularity . Their lives have been a witness of what it means to walk humbly with God . On Christmas morning this year my 87-year old grandfather preach about staying true to God ’ call , affirming that only God can be our true savior , that no political system can provide us the true transformation and salvation that we need and seek .
Anna Jeide is a Minnesota native , daughter of a female pastor , graduate of Luther College , now serving with Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Washington D . C . at La Clinica del Pueblo . She loves to sing in choir , read , travel and explore the outdoors . She is looking forward to whatever adventures come next after LVC and is discerning how to be a committed Christian in the heart of the capitol .
Lenten Reflection Guide - Ash Wednesday , February 18 , 2015