Palm Sunday. The day of Jesus’ brilliant subversion of the Empire—mocking both the Roman authorities and the Jewish religious authorities. Such audacity. If the disciples were anxious for Jesus before they returned to Jerusalem, I can only imagine how they felt when Jesus entered Jerusalem with all that fanfare.
Jesus wasn’t subtle on Palm Sunday. He took on the establishment—the Empire—in outlandish ways: miracles on the Sabbath, teaching in the synagogue, growing up in Nazareth, continuously challenging the religious authorities.
Then Palm Sunday. The crowd in Jerusalem asked, “Who is this man?” I’m sure the religious authorities asked that question long before Palm Sunday with increasing bewilderment to annoyance to anger to fury to planning his assassination.
The religious authorities also asked: “Who does he think he is?”
Who did Jesus think he was?
God. Showing us Love.
Love that continuously flows toward us.
Love that is beyond our comprehension.
Love that we receive in small amounts because receiving larger amounts is overwhelming for us.
Love that believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love is. Love is generous and kind, thinking the best of the Other, of wanting what is best for the Other.
Love is humble—not boastful or needing to elbow Others out of their place in line.
Love doesn’t classify who is important and who isn’t important.
Love doesn’t judge but honors Others.
The ways of the Empire do not work in Love. The Empire views Love as a threat and will do whatever is necessary to squelch Love. The Empire believes it has ultimate control and power (although how hard it works to maintain power reveals how slippery that power actually is). The Empire doesn’t really understand that Love is the real power—kindheartedness, gentleness, humility, modesty, generosity, yieldedness. These qualities are perceived by the Empire as weaknesses and foolishness and responds with disdain and sneers.
But Love remains. Despite all the attempts of the Empire to squelch Love, Love remains.
“There’s no greater block to world peace or inner peace than fear. What we fear we tend to develop an unreasoning hatred for, so we come to hate and fear. This not only injures us psychologically and aggravates world tension, but through such negative concentration we tend to attract the things we fear. If we fear nothing and radiate love, we can expect goodthings to come. How much this world needs the message and example of love and of faith!” —Steps Toward Inner Peace
(Peace Pilgrim lived 1908-1981 and walked more than 25,000 miles from 1953-1981 spreading her message: “This is the way of peace: Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.”)
This week O God, we consider your great love and your promise of shalom.
We ponder the enormous love you expressed both on the cross and in the empty tomb. We celebrate your gift of shalom—right, whole relationship with you, with one another, with the world.
We praise you, O God.
But this week, O God, we consider our lack of love and lack of shalom.
We repent of our disregard for others who are not like us, who offend us, who disturb us. We regret our foolish decision to curse those we despise and love only those who love and agree with us.
We grieve our broken relationship with you, with one another, with the world.
Forgive us, O God.
This week, O God, we commit ourselves anew to following your way. We intend to begin again to live our lives in your enormous love and great shalom.
We offer ourselves to you, to one another, to the world, for your good purposes.
We praise you and we celebrate your gift of shalom, O God. Amen.