When I woke up this morning it dawned on me that today is Palm Sunday, which marks the start of Holy Week (check here for some thoughts I penned a year ago), with the following Sunday, Easter day, being when Christians celebrate Jesus triumphantly rising from the dead. As I have commented before, my own background did little to encourage me regarding recognizing special days but I have come to realize these do serve a purpose, if only to steer one’s thoughts towards a particular direction that is important.
I had thought to do a meditation on Lent as last year, which I see as a season that encourages one to prepare oneself for the most sacred day in the Christian calendar, when Jesus, who is the Son of God and also God incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, and then rising from the dead three days later. When I spoke to the Anglican priest last week who asked me, to my then bemusement a year ago, how is my Lent going, I cheekily asked him that same question. I was struck by his answer. He saw Lent not so much a period of going without but rather one for performing acts of kindness. My own Lent deprivations this year have been fairly modest (as most years): stopping blogging and going without English breakfasts for some of that time, but there was a lot of sober reflecting, helped by having flu like symptoms for the past 9 days. I am also mindful of those who feel sober reflection, especially concerning our Lord’s death and resurrection and its implications and the current state of the world in which we live, going without things we can do without anyway and doing good works that help others are all things we should be doing whatever the time of the year.
But reflecting on these matters helps puts life in perspective, given we are consigned to live in this crazy, runaway world where things either don’t add up or are not as they should be. We do well to follow the example of the one who spent forty days in the wilderness to prepare for his own ministry. In his sermon this morning, my pastor brought out the idea that while we associate Palm Sunday with the idea of celebration, given Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and was lauded by the watching crowds as their coming king, there was also a dark side to this event. Jesus went into Jerusalem knowing full well that a painful death awaited him and so it was that five days later similar crowds were calling for his death and, moreover, he predicted the lot for the Jewish people in the time that followed would be a difficult one and there will be troubles in the world. So it has turned out. But there is hope – Jesus came to save all sinners (Jews and Gentiles) who repent and believe, and then rose victorious from the dead. The message of Holy week is one of hope; it is for all; the greatest gift that we can receive: salvation because of what Jesus did. The prophecy in Zechariah also looks forward to a coming day when the Messiah (Jesus) will return as king and he will reign in glory.