Rethinking Lent: Parade

I remember loving Palm Sunday for one reason: it gave us something to play with during mass. My sister and I would braid the palms, pretend they were fishing poles, try to get as close we could without touching the old person in front of us with them, and get the other one in trouble with them. Real reverent. But we were 5 and 8 and the priest didn't make much sense and so we had to do something. God bless my parents. 

And here I am, 30 years later, with actual reverence and reflection. There's just something about this storyline. The craziness of a woodworker turned king. Trees and palms laid down for a royal parade. Ragamuffins waving branches. Healed lepers, prostitutes, cheaters, liars, stealers, tax-collectors, drunks with a royal welcome. I bet the crowd had moms who feel like failures waving Him on. Dads who struggle laying down their coats. Alcoholics and addicted-ones hoping for healing. The busted and broken begging for mercy. I hope to God I would have found myself in that parade, waving Him to come and be our King.

This was prophecy being fulfilled with a parade thrown by the poor in spirit. Some knew exactly who He was, some had no idea what the big fuss was about.

The Royal Welcome
When they neared Jerusalem, having arrived at Bethphage on Mount Olives, Jesus sent two disciples with these instructions: “Go over to the village across from you. You’ll find a donkey tethered there, her colt with her. Untie her and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you’re doing, say, ‘The Master needs them!’ He will send them with you.”

This is the full story of what was sketched earlier by the prophet:

Tell Zion’s daughter,
“Look, your king’s on his way,
poised and ready, mounted
On a donkey, on a colt,
foal of a pack animal.”

The disciples went and did exactly what Jesus told them to do. They led the donkey and colt out, laid some of their clothes on them, and Jesus mounted. Nearly all the people in the crowd threw their garments down on the road, giving him a royal welcome. Others cut branches from the trees and threw them down as a welcome mat. Crowds went ahead and crowds followed, all of them calling out, “Hosanna to David’s son!” “Blessed is he who comes in God’s name!” “Hosanna in highest heaven!”

As he made his entrance into Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken. Unnerved, people were asking, “What’s going on here? Who is this?”

The parade crowd answered, “This is the prophet Jesus, the one from Nazareth in Galilee.”
— Matthew 22

Blessed is He who comes in God's name.

Jesus came in God's name. He came in God's name to be His representative to our broken world. Our broken motherhood that balances between bitterness and blessing all day long. One minute bitter at the laundry and the-stuck-at-home-mom-ness and the next blessed at the beauty of our children and their angel skin and funny thoughts and sweet little toes. We are a mess. 

He came for the mess in God's name. Your mess and my mess and your over-the-top co-workers mess and your bitter-old-neighbor's mess. All the mess. 

Palm Sunday. The People's Parade. The Neighborhood Ball. The Royal Welcome. Thank God.

Dear God, we might not fully grab all the cultural significance to palms and coats spread out and the prophecy fulfilled by coming on a colt. We may not grasp all the majesty of it but we know this: You came and people knew You were different. You were a King and You were for us and you came to heal and to give hope and to be our helper. We honor you. We lay down our coats. We get low and say: Welcome.