This day began with rejoicing…“Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord…Hosanna in the highest!” We came into church today waving palm branches and singing “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna!” Jesus is hailed as he enters the city, riding on a donkey as a sign of peace. He seems to be no threat and the crowd is so welcoming Hosanna…Praise…We’re so glad you’re here! But, this is just the beginningof the week.
As this week progresses we will watch as the political climate changes rapidly in Jerusalem…It’s the pilgrimage season leading up to Passover. The crowds are large and the tensions are high.
Jesus may come into town on the back of a peaceful donkey, but he will soon begin to meddle in the everyday lives of people who are not ready to hear his message. He will rout the vendors and the money-changers from the Temple courtyard. He will challenge the chief priests and the Pharisees on matters of both faith and the Law. He will teach in parables that indict the Jewish authorities for their arrogance and greed. Finally, he will claim the title “Messiah” and promise to destroy the Temple only to rebuild it in three days.
By Thursday he will gather with his trusted disciples to share the Passover meal. In the end, one of his inner circle will come to him in the Garden, under the cover of darkness, and betray him with the kiss of a friend. How did we get from “Hosanna!” to this kiss? Where do we go from here?
Today is an emotional beginning to a roller-coaster week. We’ve heard our choir sing beautiful hymns that take us from great joy to deep sorrow. It’s not new to most of us – we’ve stood on this day before. We’ve looked ahead to the horrible, brutal events of the end of this week with the knowledge that next week begins in glory – the Resurrection! We know this week isn’t the end of the journey; we knowwho wins.
But, this year – this week, I want us to really think about how we got here. What took us from “Hosanna!” to a kiss? What role do we playin the events unfolding this week?
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.