Hosanna Heysanna zanna zanna ho (A Palm Sunday Sermon)
Hurrah here comes our King, humble and peaceful and riding on a donkey.
And gosh we need this moment of peace and joy and we just need to receive it and absorb it, like those moments when you just stand in the sun and feel its warmth and let it sink in for a while.
With the crowd waving their palm leaves and throwing their coats down – Here’s a wave if you like of joy. Just enjoy it for a moment. Here’s a wave of peace – just let it be. Don’t rush on to what happens next, just stay in this present moment of goodness.
So many of us are tired and worried and it seems to me that we’re all just one snarky remark from bursting into tears.
But here is our God, this is our King, and He bring Peace.
Hosanna Heysanna zanna zanna ho
There have been times when I have wanted King Jesus to come riding in not on a donkey but on a war horse.
Times when, and it still does feel that there’s so much woe and strife and responsibility and its exhausting in so many different ways
And there have been days when I have thought – actually I would honestly prefer it if this year Jesus came riding in not as a peaceful king but a warrior king, someone who would take over, who would lift off us the burdens we carry but simply dictating how it must be and then I listen to myself and my anger and I think actually no that’s not such a good idea.
Here is your king and he is humble and gentle and he bring peace.
Pope Francis has written about how we might come out of this Pandemic and can we do it in a way that shows that we have learned to receive His Peace, learned to live this gentle way, learned to be kind. Can we continue in that way?
I think the way to do that is to receive Jesus, the King of Peace, to enjoy this moment, this wave of peace, absorb it and live it.
Have you ever wondered why today’s Gospel reading spends longer looking at the Donkey than it does looking at Jesus – seven verses on Jesus telling a couple of disciples about how to get the donkey and then four verses on the Magnificent moment of entry.
Wouldn’t it be quicker for Mark to just tell us, as John does: ‘Jesus found a donkey and sat on it’. Job done. Move on. But no Matthew, Mark, Luke, feel the need to talk about getting a donkey.
I actually think that there is a reason. Do you remember that first moment when you realised that your faith was for Real? That having faith in Jesus was real and powerful and life changing and wonderful?
That moment when you realised there’s more to this than just nice architect and beautiful poetry and what have you.
For me, I’d grown up being read these bible stories, fabulous stories, but it was only when I needed to forgive someone, needed to get them out of my head and to receive some peace into my heart, it was only when I had a go at doing what I’d been praying for years – Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us – and then suddenly I felt it – that I was free, that I had forgiven this person and now I was free, it was wonderful.
Hosanna Heysanna zanna zanna ho
And I think I was also a little shocked – oh my gosh that worked! All these stories that I’ve been reading for years and actually there’s a real God, really behind them who is trying to get through to me, to change me, to help me.
And it changed how I saw myself- no longer living trying to make God like me by being all proper and respectable and upstanding but it freed me to laugh at myself and to enjoy God, not to fear God.
Can you remember yours? And if you haven’t had a moment yet, I wonder how God will do it for you?! Because it really is a wonderful moment when you suddenly realise that the Prince of Peace has arrived in your heart. And so many of our worries form a new perspective and we have a new hope.
Jesus tells two of the disciples, we don’t know which two, I’m of the view that they are not part of the 12 but if you want to know why ask me another time: go into the village and you’ll find a donkey so untie it and bring it here.
Now there must have been some But What IF sort of conversation because Jesus says Look IF someone says Oi, then say Its okay the Master needs it and we’ll bring it right back.
Now they tentatively go ahead and do this, but I bet that as they do this they’re muttering to each other about all sorts of worries and other what-ifs they forgot to check with Jesus. The scary question gets asked: Oi what do you think you’re doing! They calmly reply and everything is okay.
We have faith struggles and trust issues but here’s two followers of Jesus who have just had a moment when its all worked out Okay. They have found that trusting Jesus has worked out.
It’s good I think that there are two of them because that way they’re able to encourage each other on the way back and say Well that wasn’t so bad!
Its important that we try to remember these little moments when we did what Jesus asked and it all worked out okay. And its important that we encourage each other with them too.
Very often we do know what Jesus is asking – a friend comes to mind and we think I wonder how they’re doing perhaps I might give them a call – and we do it and have a nice chat and then afterwards we say – I wonder if Jesus was nudging me to do that.
It’s not a big deal.
And then Jesus asks us if we would like to forgive someone and, sometimes we’re ready.
Or Jesus makes us notice the plight of the homeless, the needs of others and we generously step up and find that there’s more joy to be found in giving than in getting.
These little divine moments are really important because they help us grow our faith and our trust in Jesus, they tune our ears to his voice, his heart. And that’s important … because of what happens next.
The turmoil and confusion of this next week – Jesus gets arrested and flogged and now the crowds are shouting something different and its all going horribly wrong –
and now is the moment when you really need to cling onto those simpler days when Jesus just asked you to go and borrow a Donkey for the day.
We will see that the temptation of Fight or Flight is very strong when what we need is a third option.
What might that be? To calmly stand our ground, to pray, to be the people of peace because we worship the king of peace, to be the people who De-escalate.
We’re going to see Jesus break the spiral of hate and hurt and revenge – it will cost him his life – and for some of those following Jesus, I wonder if it will cost them their faith – will they look at this and think ‘Oh well that’s not what I signed up for’.
As we come out of this Pandemic over these next six months or so, as rules change, and society changes, here is a moment for us to show that we are disciples of the King of Peace – a chance for us to show our generosity, our joy, our love.
And that means being gentle with ourselves and gentle with each other
And that starts with us receiving Jesus – our gentle king humble and lowly and riding on a donkey. Amen.