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Theme for Palm Sunday, 5 April 2020

The Scripture for Palm Sunday is focused on the reading of the Passion Narrative (this year from Matthew 26.14-27.54).

Palm Procession in more normal times

When we participate in the reading of the Passion narrative, we are invited to immerse ourselves in it sufficiently to ask ourselves the question: “What would I be doing in this situation?”

As with many passages from scripture, it invites us to place ourselves in the different roles. Of course, we are called to emulate Christ as our model and guide – to take up our crosses. Yet in reality, during our lives, we play several of the other parts in this sad drama.

The self-preserving disciples, of whom the denying Peter is the epitome.

The preservers of status quo, of whom the high priest and sham of a trial are examples.

The baying mob, who are in reality projections of our tendency to want to avoid being out of line, or rocking the boat.

The cruel bully who inflicts mockery and pain on the weak and innocent, as demonstrated by the soldiers with their crown of thorns and whips.

The spineless leader, Pilate, who won’t stand up to the majority, who represents our weak inability to speak truth to the vocal majority.

Even the questioning witnesses around the fire, who represent our inclination to gossip and interfere even when it causes discomfort, pain or even danger for others.

To place ourselves in the Passion of Jesus, we are just as much challenged today as his followers were then to confront the values of the culture around us.

We are coming to the conclusion of a very strange Lenten season. Whatever discipline we may have adopted this year, to take up something new, or to give up some pleasure, I doubt that any of us anticipated just where we would find ourselves. Giving up freedom of movement was not on my list. Taking up a form of worship that is dictated by being separated was also not on my list.

Perhaps we might just pause and ask ourselves what we are now doing that places us in the Passion Narrative in an uncomfortable role. How are we behaving on social media, for example? Are we part of a baying mob, or inflicting mockery and cruelty (however subtly)?

Perhaps we might just pause and ask ourselves what we are missing that we value. We might find that we have acquired an accentuated value for human contact and community.

Let’s walk through this week and allow ourselves to be open to the disturbance that we are experiencing, with an intentional awareness to pay attention to its messages for our altered lives.

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