Supernal Sunday – March 24, 2024 Edition: Palms and Political Passion

Palm Sunday brings back a lot of childhood memories. Growing up with a Catholic father, we were taken to mass, followed the rules of the day – especially Lenten practices regarding “giving up” something for those 40 days, and abstaining from meat on Fridays – in our household. Even outside of Lent, though, we had certain routines. The main one was the crucifix in the hallway, on the wall between my bedroom and that of my parents, hanging just above the laundry chute. Inside was a cloth, and a small bottle of holy water. At night, when we would go to bed, my father would lift me (and my sister of course) up to kiss Jesus, hanging on His cross with a look of abject misery mixed with great sorrow. And there was tucked behind that cross usually a small dried palm branch that had been placed there when we got home from Palm Sunday mass, where they were distributed to the parishioners. I can’t think of Palm Sunday without those memories coming to mind as clearly as if they happened yesterday…

It was during my college days that I left the Catholic church. Though honored and considered a sacred period, the protestant churches which I have attended during the last 45 years haven’t had the same stringent rules applied to Lent or holy week. Part of me misses that one aspect of my Catholic upbringing, above any other. I have, to various degrees, acknowledged and honored Lent most years, but it is when we get to holy week that I find myself continually mindful, to the point of great sorrow in my heart as we move toward Good Friday, of the greatest sacrifice a Man has ever made in the history of the world, out of a love greater than we can comprehend this side of eternity.

The people in Jerusalem that day celebrated the arrival of their King – their Deliverer. They were expecting to be delivered from the bondage of the Romans, to be liberated from their control, to have their Davidic kingdom returned to them…their celebration was political. Then came their King on a donkey as a sign of peace and humility. How confusing that must have been for them! They were expecting Him to bring political victory! They did not see, as they laid their palms and cloaks ahead of Him on that road, that He was bringing a different kind of victory – the most important kind of victory, worth more than overthrowing any world government…a victory over sin and death. How much different are we today?

from Luke chapter 19

Today there are people – Christians – who proclaim political righteousness for their chosen party. In their fervor they proclaim anyone that may disagree to be wrong, to be evil because of their world view. “According to Scripture, Christian character includes the pursuit of truth, godliness, love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, patience, perseverance, meekness, humility, self-control, compassion, thankfulness, forgiveness, contentment, and unity.” source That so many turn away from their place as children of the humble King who rode into Jerusalem on the first day of that holiest week for the sake of politics shows that the meaning of Palm Sunday is lost on them; even that the message of that day as Jesus wept for His people who didn’t understand doesn’t matter anymore…Christian, as you celebrate and remember that day, remember the meaning. It still applies. Christ did not come for political victory, He came to rescue us not from world governments, but from the power of death! And THAT is the message which we are called to spread!

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