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Entering Jerusalem

Written By Margaret W. Jones

Mark 11 :1-11a and Mark 14:32-15:47

In the gospel of Luke, when shepherds came to the Bethlehem manger to tell Mary and Joseph the wondrous things they had heard about their newborn child, we are told that “all who were there were amazed.”  Then Luke gives Mary’s response:  “Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.”

On this Palm Sunday, after the grand procession with palms and the profound and moving Scripture readings, what is our response to be?  It is all so overwhelming, so full of emotion and meaning.  It seems to me that Mary’s response might be the model for our response: to treasure all we have heard and seen, and to ponder them in our hearts.

At least for today, let the heart guide the head.

There are two readings today from Mark’s gospel.  One tells of Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem; the other is the long, vivid account of Jesus’ passion.  From one to the other, they run the gamut of human emotion:

From the jubilant, hope-filled welcome into Jerusalem, as our Lord rides a colt while the people cry, “Hosanna, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

To the horror of enraged crowds inside Jerusalem crying, “Crucify him!  Crucify him!”

From a parade of people enthusiastically waving palm branches,  to Jesus on the road to Calvary, carrying the cross upon which he will die .

From kingdom to crucifixion.

As he enters Jerusalem upon a colt, Jesus rides with a humble majesty that makes human monarchs as insignificant as straw.  As he walks to Golgotha, Jesus goes to a stark and devastating death, abandoned, mocked, and yet with the courage to cry out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”  before he breathes his last.

The story ends there, today.

His story, like ours, does not ultimately end there … but it does today.

That’s why when we leave this church, we will not sing a hymn of triumph but the hymn, “O, sacred head sore wounded.”  The priest and writer Herbert O’Driscoll suggests an image for Palm Sunday: "Just as Jesus rode into Jerusalem, he also rides into our hearts."

What will he find there, in your heart?  In mine?

Whatever is there, this is the day to open up and welcome him.  Some of us, whose hearts are thankful and joyful, may very well welcome him with Hosannas.  Others of us may simply, quietly allow him into hearts that are heavy, or fragile, or broken.

There is another Palm Sunday hymn which includes the following lines: “Ride on!  Ride on in majesty!  In lowly pomp ride on to die … the angel armies of the sky look down with sad and wondering eyes to see the approaching sacrifice.  Ride on! Ride on in majesty!”

As we ride on through whatever is on our lives and hearts, may that hymn be on our lips, as well as in our hearts, this sacred day and always.  And, through the grace of God, may we know that we do not ride alone.  Amen.

Copyright ©  Calvary Episcopal Church.