Matthew 21:1-11 (Palm Sunday) – April 2nd, 2023

Matthew 21:1-11 – Palm Sunday

I hesitated to write a post for this week since I know so many congregations will be reading the Passion story for Palm/Passion. Hear me when I say that there is nothing wrong with that and there is real beauty in hearing the entirety of the Passion story in one sitting. That is even more important for those communities that do not hold services for Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. It is critically important that we do not have Palm Sunday and enter into the joy of Easter Sunday without have first stopped at the washing of the feet and the cross on the hill.

But I still wanted to share a thought for those who are preaching: Lean into the disorientation.

On Palm Sunday, we get the chance to lean into the disorientation of it all. For 6ish weeks we have been in the reflection (more somber) season of Lent. Now we jump in Palm Sunday with “Hossana’s” and palms waving, all the while knowing that the cross is only a few days away.

It is absolutely disorienting.

I wonder if that’s exactly how it should be. Maybe this is the exact example that we need in order to better understand what it means to be disciples of Christ.

As I see these texts that are in front of us and as I see the week that is before us, I think that the emotions of life are often a lot more like Holy Week than they are like Lent.

Moments of incredible joy immediately followed by moments of terrible sorrow. Moments of stress and fatigue followed by moments of achievement and release. I know I feel those drastically different moments regularly in my life. Dissonant realities of emotions felt at the same time.

Life is a series of ups and downs. Ebbs and flows. Joys and sorrows. Fear and faith. In this way, Life is a lot more like Holy Week than it is like Lent.

And these last few years in particular have illustrated that to the utmost extreme. We are simultaneously presented with the sorrow of death but the joys of new life each day. Joys and sorrows come in and out of our lives as quickly as a passing day.

There may be a job loss in the family, followed by a wonderful celebration of someone’s birthday.

There may be the purchase of a new car or a new home, followed by the news of a challenging medical diagnosis of a loved one.

There may be tragedies or disasters in the news or around the world but our personal life might be filled with joy and happiness.

You may be experiencing a hard season of depression or anxiety but have a wonderful day that catches you wonderfully unaware.

We lament as we hear the news about the shooting in Nashville and the never-ending circuitous debate around gun laws in this country. And we celebrate the warming weather and the return of flowers and budding trees, signs of the promise of new life and resurrection all around us.

We express frustration from the minor inconveniences of life like car troubles or difficult projects. And we express the joy of good brackets for March Madness or the anticipation of a new baseball season.

Life as a Christian—expressing our laments for what the world is and our hopes for what the Kingdom of God can and will be—is disorienting. And yet, it is the most beautiful way we can live. Authentically hopeful.

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