I didn't start my day thinking about gang killings. But then a man showed up and asked about a funeral for his nephew—on Palm Sunday.
When the Ascension coincides with Lailat al-Mi‘rāj, perhaps Christians and Muslims can spare a sidelong glance.
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Luke 19:28-40
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Mark 11:1-11 or John 12:12-16
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Matthew 21:1-11
Eight years ago, shortly before Palm Sunday, our eight-year-old son was under the weather. My husband, Lou, had volunteered to cover the doctor’s appointment and a trip to the drugstore for whatever prescription would clear up Calvin’s little infection. “Go to the gym,” he said. “You need to relieve some stress.”
When I was a child, I loved Palm Sunday because we got to act out the biblical version of a ticker-tape parade. Later I learned of the ephemeral quality of stardom and parades and decided that Palm Sunday and Passion Week belong together. As a pastor, I have accepted the dismal fact that most of our people skip Thursday, Friday and Saturday, slipping from parade pandemonium to Easter ecstasy with none of the suffering and pain.
Life is details—phones that keep ringing, e-mail that has to be returned, computers that crash, copy machines that jam, and children who are sick when we need to be at work. We struggle with the details of bodies that don’t work as they should, with doctors, specialists, medical tests and pills. Our children juggle homework, athletics, orthodontists and piano lessons. Then we all go to church on Sunday, and what do we find but more details?
The term better fits Matthew than Mark, and neither Gospel justifies the church’s celebration of Palm Sunday as though it were an Easter before Easter.
Maybe the real reason we show betrayers so little compassion is that we’re afraid there is some Judas chromosome within all of us.
April 8 (Luke 19:28-40)