When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’ This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
‘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.’
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.
Today is Palm Sunday so of course every time I think of Palm Sunday I think of this…
In fact, all too often during this season, this song gets stuck in my head and turned up on repeat. During my last year of seminary, I was a chapel assistant for the Thursday morning chapel service. So for Palm Sunday service pre Palm Sunday I begged that the band play this song in order to get us in the mood. They did and they did a great job. They sang out “Hey sanna Ho sanna sanna sanna HEY!” I had also negotiated that if there were to be palms, there would be real palms or no palms at all with one of my professors. My biggest pet peeve about Palm SUnday is when people hand out paper palms and expect us to wave them around. The idea of Jesus coming in and being greeted with Palms was a big deal because people just cut branches and used what they had. They didn’t say, “oh and hey, if you don’t have a palm go get a piece of paper.” It would be as if we just went outside and cut branches from Doug Firs to wave around…not a bad idea for next Palm Sunday.
Anyway, everything was set…the band was to play this annoying but wonderful song from a musical I love…no palms and the preacher was set. I arrived on scene to find that the preacher was placing little paper palms on each chair. I ran to her and said, “Oh no, we won’t be doing this” to which she responded, “well, it’s the ONLY way that my sermon will work!”
You guessed it…we waved paper palms in the air with all of our might while my professor exuded a smile because he knew my strong feelings about this.
Everything turned out lovely and I learned some important things that day….
1. When the preacher needs palms, nothing will stand in her way.
2. Worship is more than asthetics but asthetics don’t hurt…they just may not be what we had envisioned.
3. Jesus comes and shows up anyway…no matter what we are waving or what we are singing. Spirit cannot be contained.
4. Hey sanna Ho sanna is one of the catchiest songs of ALL TIME. The ear worm lasts for MONTHS! You’re welcome.
5. Palm Sunday and the week to come are more than the sum of their parts. Palm Sunday is political and edgy…its celebratory and bittersweet…and it’s essential to the story…
Enjoy waving palms today whatever they look like.