April 13, 2014

Two Parades

There were two parades in Hartford today around our church.  One was attended by tens of thousands, cheering and partying.  The streets were closed to traffic; parking lots were jammed; souvenirs were on sale everywhere.  The heroes being celebrated were basketball players, young men and women who had accomplished the seemingly impossible. They were winners, champions.  And it seemed the whole state was united in saluting them. 

The other parade was a small group waving pieces of palm, singing and walking down the sidewalk.  No need to stop traffic for that parade!  No marching bands, no dignitaries, no crowds lined up to cheer.  No one really paying attention or even noticing.  No spectators. Except one… one Holy One, watching our little efforts to recreate what history calls the “Triumphal Entry.”  Maybe it was triumphal.  Maybe it was like the afternoon parade with the cheering masses.  But maybe it was just a small group, not quite sure where they were going or why, just saluting that man on the donkey.

One writer who calls Palm Sunday “the strangest holiday of the year,” says it is “a celebration of misunderstanding”  (John Leax).  We are looking for heroes, the ones who have defied the odds and ended up as champions.  We are excited to have an excuse for a party.  We think our problems will all be solved and the trophies are ours.  We have been faithful fans and now we are being rewarded.  But it isn’t like that at all. 

This is not a parade where we are spectators and he is putting on a show.  This is the real thing.  We cannot stand along the parade route as he passes by on his journey to the cross, and then gather up our things and go back to our old way of life.  We have to follow him, if we are to consider ourselves Christians, if we are to be Christ-like. We have to have the same mind that was in him. We have to go with him into faithfulness, into surrender to God, even into suffering.  This is not a mere and momentary disruption in the rush-hour traffic of our lives.  Instead it is a complete change of destination. 

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