Which to choose… the part of the text about the mass protest, or the part of the text about touch… Lord, you do have a sense of humor. I’m sticking with chapter 11 for the majority of this post, but chapter 14 is one of my very favorite texts, in the end, I offer a little something.
Everything is changing.
One of the more understandable descriptions of trauma is “too much, too fast”. When I think about how Jesus entered Jerusalem, needing a donkey, borrowing a Passover table, preparing his disciples for the life-altering experience they are about to have, preparing for his own death. It’s all too much, too fast.
I don’t want to fast forward too much into Holy week, but no wonder Jesus wept in the Garden, I’m not dealing with half as much and I wept in the shower for an hour last night. It would have been longer but the hot water ran out. So much sadness and disappointment and grief. Too much maybe.
As we think about the sadness of missing Holy Week in our churches, I look to this scripture for guidance, and where does it take me? Use what you’ve got.
Jesus needed to borrow a donkey, the people cut branches off the trees to wave, they didn’t have them delivered from Eco Palms or their local florist, and they didn’t argue over the proper ones, Catholic or Protestant palms (I mean, protestant palms clearly…). They used their cloaks (okay, Matthew did, but you get the idea) to make a royal carpet. Everything was makeshift.
So why not ask your congregation to wave a head of lettuce or a branch of forsythia? What do they have? If now isn’t the time for using what we’ve got, I don’t know when it is? So what if we don’t have the “traditional” or “proper”. Of course, we’ll miss it, I’ll miss it. But I might just gather my kids to walk around our neighborhood with kale leaves shouting, “Blessed Be the One Who Comes in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the Highest!”
Will I feel silly? Yes. Am I teary-eyed just thinking about it? Also yes. Jesus told us we don’t need the proper tools, we have everything that we need. And if we’re unable to cry out? Then creation will on our behalf. So gather the stones around you and listen for their cries.
How many Christmas’s have we spent explaining that conditions do not need to be perfect, that Christ will come anyway, maybe this is the time we remember his death was anything but perfect conditions as well.
If this is all too much for you and you want to talk about anointing, I offer this quote from “Mirror of the Church” by Emmanuel Katongle. He called the woman “Mary,” even though we do not know her name, but I have left the quote intact.
“So far as we know Mary doesn’t say anything. She doesn’t draw attention to herself … I believe Mary represents the “rebel consciousness” that is essential to Jesus’ gospel. Whereever the gospel is preached, we must remember that its good news will make you crazy. The good news of God’s kingdom will force you to question social norms. Jesus will put you at odds with the economic and political systems of our world. The gospel will force you to act, interrupting the world as it is in ways that make even pious people indignant… Without attempting to win influance over anyone, Mary has forced everyone in the room to check their assumptions. Without grasping for political power, she has pledged allegance to God’s kingdom. Without accepting the system that would put Jesus to death, she has nevertheless prepared his body for burial…. The rebel consciousness of a prophetic posture teaches us to rethink not only our mind-set and our approach, but also our timing.”
Good luck friends, God is with us always and in ALL WAYS! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
The Reverend Shannon Meacham (@revmeach) currently serves Ashland Presbyterian Church in the Baltimore suburbs. She lives there with her husband Derrick Weston and together they raise their four children. You can find her musings about any and all subjects on her personal blog, Pulpit Shenanigans, or listen to Pub Theology Live podcast, of which she is a co-host.
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