A Palm Sunday journey – Minister’s reflection 24/3/24

Today is Palm Sunday when we remember the well-known story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. There’s a gritty earthiness to the story for there are no miracles or clever stories or teaching from Jesus, just him on a donkey plodding down a dusty, stoney road, with cloaks and palms thrown on the road and praises to God shouted by the few who welcome him.

Yet this story is a powerful reminder of how God works: that in something so earthy, there is also something holy happening. This is like so much of Jesus’ life: the ordinary conversations, the story telling, the journeys and the noticing of people that others might not have noticed. In all this that is so ordinary, the momentous and holy work of God is happening, for this is how God works.

What is important to notice in this story is that Jesus isn’t there by mistake or coincidence. Jesus is making this journey into Jerusalem by choice, and it is not an easy choice to have made. By going into Jerusalem Jesus is opening himself up to trouble, trouble that will mean that he will be executed on the Friday at the end of the week.

Yet Jesus has made an intentional decision to go towards this place of conflict and danger because he knows that is how he will make God known in the world. This week I have been reflecting on the need for us to go towards difficult things and places and people if God is going to be known in the world.

The human tendency is flight, fight or freeze when we are confronted by a difficult situation, but there is another way:  that of stepping towards things that are hard in love and to step towards difficult people with love. This is what Jesus is doing on that first Palm Sunday. He could have avoided the place of potential conflict and danger, but he does not. Instead, he chooses to go towards it so he can be there. We can tend to want to avoid things that are difficult or unsettling or unknown or every dangerous. Jesus’ deliberate journey to Jerusalem reminds us of the calling to not avoid but to go towards.

Doing this is deeply spiritual because God is often very much at work in the places and the people we might rather avoid, and God is always at work when we make the intentional decision towards such people and places. Such going towards means not standing still or avoiding or ignoring. Going towards means we face the truth of what we need to do and where we need to be, rather than simply being frozen by our fear or our uncertainty or our desire to keep things comfortable.

Faith is not a passport to an easy life. It is, however, a promise that God will be with us in the difficult decisions that life calls us to make. God is with us when we step into the unknown.

The week that follows Palm Sunday is call Holy Week – it is the final week of Jesus’ life, and it is holy not because it is easy but because it is hard and gritty and tough and reminds us that God is found in all this.

May you know God with you in your difficult decisions and may you dare to travel towards something this week that you might rather avoid.

If you want to talk about this or anything at all, please do get in touch.

Rev Anne.

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