Thursday's Thought for Sunday's Service
March 22, 2018
This week’s Thursday’s Thought for Sunday’s Service is based upon Mark 11:1-11:
“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’ ” They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.” (Mark 11:1–11, NIV)
How often in life do we achieve a significant recognition, only to see the resultant celebration quickly slip away and morph into something else? In a similar way, following along to the tune of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is a moment to savor, but only briefly. Does it portend that better days are ahead? Perhaps, but the future might also bring more overcast skies which are: darker; sinister; threatening. Considering this scriptural passage, what do the upcoming days, the week before Easter 2018, hold in store for us? It’s a question impossible to fully answer. The only way to know for sure is by living in the moment, day to day. Along with this might come a coping mechanism, part of daily experience and understanding… is it expectation for surprise? (Or more clumsily put, not really being surprised… when getting surprised?)
Perhaps I can describe this in yet another way. Do I really like surprises? For example, when they occur, I often try to dismiss them, with a shrug. I’m more for well-planned steps, which offers a view of what lies ahead. But, interacting with this Easter narrative of Jesus, re-reading how he makes his way into Jerusalem, is a different matter. I feel like I’m trying to make my way through a thick crowd, tightly packed. I visualize having trouble holding my hand out in front of my face. Where to go? What direction to turn? What lies ahead? It’s confusing. I can feel the anticipation building. Will I like what unfolds as I continue to follow the story of Jesus?
This text teaches that trusting in God’s providence is something that Jesus, (and those who follow along, whether they understand where they are going, or not) must continually experience. Over time, confidence builds in the idea of a greater wisdom overarching events within an ancient Passover celebration, even though, from my perspective at least, I can’t see much. Despite my underlying feeling of being out of control, pushed and shoved forward to the place where Jesus ultimately becomes accused, assailed, arrested; condemned, chastened, and crucified, I also gain a growing awareness that I have been guided to a place to become an eventual and effectual witness to what is to come.
Rev. Richard Wagner