We humans are stubborn. It has been 2000 years since Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and we’re still dazzled by pomp and circumstance. We’re still dismissive of the simple and lowly, until the world falls apart.
Just a few months ago you could find a whole lot of folks who were utterly enamored with movie stars, blustery politicians, and billionaires, and utterly dismissive of grocery store clerks, delivery drivers, or migrant laborer picking fruits and vegetables.
But today the movie stars are home, sets shuttered. The blustery politicians it turns out are very little help. The billionaires are showing their true colors (some decent, some not); and the grocery store clerks, delivery drivers, migrant laborers, janitors, and cooks are keeping our society together.
“Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
God doesn’t look at things the way we do, or do things the way we do, thank goodness.
We have all been here before, we’ve all stood with palm branches in our hands and shouted hosanna, and we all know what is coming next. We can see it like a great wave breaking above our heads, a tsunami of darkness and suffering.
There will be verbal sparring matches and mounting tension. There will be sweat perfume to anoint a prophet and king. There will be a meal behind closed doors, filled with fear and love. There will be a garden, and betrayal, and suffering, and finally death.
That we know how this will go does not make it easier.
Our world has, sort of been here before as well. Standing on the brink of death and destruction, in world wars or the flu pandemic of 1918. We know what’s coming. More people will die. Heroes will appear in the places we least expect (but that God saw coming). Everything we knew will change. The tsunami of darkness and suffering hangs above our heads.
This week I left the house only to walk our two dogs. And day by day the traffic noises grew quieter until I could hardly hear the highway over the sound of birds singing their love songs.
Between the showers I watched buds unfurl, flowers open, and one day green leaves appear overnight where only bare dead looking twigs had been. The ancient Celts called the natural world its own Testament, a Revelation of God different from, but just as important as scripture.
And our world is telling us the story of Easter, if we can raise or eyes and see.
The crosses stand ready on the hill, yes, but there are birds on their outstretched arms singing down the shouting violence.
There is a tomb ready in the garden but all around it flowers refuse to bow their heads, and leaves burst out in their shiny bright green newness.
There is darkness coming for us, a long slow walk through the valley of death.
But we are an Easter people and our hope comes riding on a humble donkey, not a war horse. In a delivery van, not a limousine. In a mop, and a cleaning cloth; not a scepter. And so I invite you to a different kind of Holy Week, to a drawing inward, to stillness, and patience.
For the disciples the next few days were lonely, frightening, and isolating and for us they may feel very much the same. Remember that God who knows us fully, and loves us infinitely walks with us each step of the way. Our own Holy Week may stretch into a Holy Month. Our homes little tombs, pregnant with safety and new life.
Easter will come. But we are not there yet.
Easter always comes, nothing can stop it. Our wait may seem very long this year, stay with it dear friends. Wait. Incubate. Take this time to sit in the tomb with Christ. Take this time to nestle in the lap of God. And wait for the dawn we know will come, the spring we know will burst into bloom, the new life that is coming.