March 30, 2012

March 30: Pilgrimage of consequence


By Jim Brenneman, president
SCRIPTURE: Mark 11:1-11 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

As you read this, I am with a group of pilgrims preparing for another Palm Sunday procession. Literally, we are “approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives,” where Jesus sent two disciples to find a donkey colt for him to ride into Jerusalem by way of the Lion’s Gate. I have made this pilgrimage before. As a child, I wildly waved my palm branch, circling around the sanctuary with adults lined up regiment-like in their pews. As an adult, I’ve waved my palm branch in an annual “peace parade” from the poor neighborhoods of Pasadena to the center of power and consumption, City Hall and the mall nearby. I have acted out this story for many years in various places and in varied ways. Once before, I joined thousands of other pilgrims from all over the world, waving branches and shouting, “Hosanna!” as we made our way from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem retracing the very footpath of Jesus so many years ago. It’s a procession laden with meaning and choice.

As fast as primary voters might switch loyalties, within the week from Palm Sunday to Easter, “Hosanna in the highest!” became “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Holy Week, then and now, was and is a journey of consequence, a week of decisive choices. And choice, not chance, determines destiny – ours and the world’s. What will be our destiny after this week is over? Will we sign on to the way of Jesus, at the end of the week as well as today? Will our Hosannas still be Hosannas at the end of the week? Even though Christ may lead us “through the valley of the shadow of death,” into cross-bearing places among thieves, will we sign on? Will we sign on to follow such a Savior, who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, instead of a warhorse, to surrender his life for the sake of others, for you, for me? This Sunday, as I enter Jerusalem at the Lion’s Gate with my palm branch waving, I want to sign on for life. “Hosanna in the highest heaven; Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!”


God, mercifully grant that we, walking in the shadow of the cross, find it none other than the way of life and peace. Hosanna, our Lord Christ, who lives and reigns with God forever and ever. Amen.

SCRIPTURE: Mark 11:1-11 (NRSV)
1 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?’ just say this, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’ ” 4 They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5 some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9 Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.



Comments (5)

  1. Thanks Jim. I’ll make that my prayer for the day.I hope it doesn’t snow today!

    Mary K. Mishler March 30, 2012 |
  2. How blessed you are to be there! Reminds me of a story a colleague shared of her Aunt that would sign all the cards she sent to family members…BE THERE! Her witness to follow Jesus and see them in heaven. At this time of Holy week to be in a holy place where it all took place….what a blessing to BE THERE. Thanks for sharing.

    Jen March 30, 2012 |
  3. Thank you for your challenge for Palm Sunday and Holy Week. As I’ve been reflecting on my sermon for Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday, I’ve been aware of what courage it took for those who processed with Jesus on the first Palm Sunday. It was NOT a safe thing to do. The procession mocked the powerful Roman Empire and threatened their religious authorities. They would be recognized. Even though I’m an extrovert, I find it difficult to join marches for justice. So. . . when we’re quick to condemn the fickleness of that mob on Good Friday, let’s remember to praise them for the courage they had on Palm Sunday. They went out on a limb. . . even with a palm branch.

    Kathy March 30, 2012 |
  4. Having been there with a CPT delegation in 1995, I can picture you and the group walking a similar route today. Thank you for your message.

    Ethel March 30, 2012 |
  5. Your description and reflection brought back fond memories of my own pilgrimage from Bethphage to Jerusalem. On my return I was “homesick” for a week. If I’m not mistaken, I have the perception that it was the Temple mob and not the “Hosanna” followers who bayed for the blood of Jesus. I may be wrong.
    Easter Joy to you.
    Mervyn Carapiet

    Mervyn Carapiet March 31, 2012 |