Palm Sunday

By Taylor Poindexter, Seminarian

I went on a walk earlier this week over at Seminary. There are square miles of green space, the Seminary and Episcopal High School are right next to each other, and across the road is Fort Ward park. In the Spring, the trees and the flowers are over the top beautiful. As I walked around it was hot on my back, there was wind in my face. As I made the last turn on my walk I caught a wiff of that fresh spring flower smell and went “whoo” and looked to see where it was coming from. It seemed to be coming from a young tree with little green leaves on it. Just beautiful. But kind of all the while on my walk, there was a dark rain cloud off in the distance, there were frequent sirens, there were the military helicopters going around. So there was this juxtaposition, that we live with, with beauty smack dab next to pain, next to worry, sometimes next to real danger.

Right in the thick of those beautiful sights and smells. This is how I am approaching this holy week, and I think it’s one good way to do it, ready to experience the ups and the downs.

Palm Sunday is joyful, we process, we make the way, we wave palms, Jesus is coming into Jerusalem. If I put myself in the place of those putting their coats down before Jesus as he approached Jerusalem I imagine there were beautiful sight, thrilling moments, and the joy of the crowd. But we know now and probably many knew at the time, that Pilate, the governor, was entering Jerusalem from the other side. We have this epic that we can see unfolding before us and life’s just going on. For a moment, Jerusalem is the center of the universe. This is where the drama of salvation takes place. This is where we will walk with Jesus during Holy Week. This is where the powers, the principalities, the mob mentality try to take on the greatest power in the world, which is love incarnate. Jesus Christ experiencing that mix that we do of beauty and pain, and then redeeming it, making it whole, making it new. We look to that redemption, and in the meantime I struggle with walking this tightrope of beauty and pain. On that walk a few days ago, I saw that beautiful smelling tree and those little green leaves and I could imagine pulling off one of the skinny branches and I could imagine that the inside of it would be green. And along with that storm cloud, I was reminded of the warning Jesus gives to the women:

“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children…For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

If they hang this man without sin on a freshly cut cross, if they do this to the one without sin, the savior of the world. If people can be so swept up in the mob over this man, what will they do to others? Jesus says this kind of pain doesn’t go away. So there’s beauty in this life, hope, forgiveness, love, and then there’s all this pain, and the reality of people’s ability to be so brutal.

As always, Jesus reverses things. There’s this powerful savior whose greatest act was in becoming a servant. He turns it on its head.

And somehow this savior of the world, is in some real way made known to us by breaking. Christ is present in this breaking, the breaking of the bread, the breaking of our hearts over the knowledge of the ways we are complicit in evil, broken open people. There’s something about the broken hearted, God incarnate being so strong that he could be broken open, poured out, and in that make us new. This whole movement has to do with the broken hearted. The broken open Christ, the brokenness we live with. So I pray that this holy, holy week we can allow ourselves to be a little broken open to Christ, I pray that we can have the same mind as Christ, and I pray that any brokenness will be like cracks through which God’s grace can grow.