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Palm Sunday – March 29, 2015

What is your place in the Story?
The Passion story is the longest passage of scripture you ever hear in church. It’s nearly two chapters long. It includes a cast of characters too numerous to follow without a missalette. It also requires you to pay attention for a long time in a culture not much given to listening. So one way you can use this reading is as an annual examination of conscience, to pinpoint yourself on the road of discipleship. Which character in the story best represents your relationship to Jesus this year?

Are you an unapologetic traitor like Judas, glad to take the money and run? Or are you more like Peter, who talks a good game but lies when the truth becomes too expensive to own? Are you a violent character like Barabbas, whose reign of horror is redeemed at the price of innocent suffering? Are you a powerbroker like Pilate, making pragmatic decrees rather than seeking the troublesome truth? Do you sleep through the hour of crisis, when vigilant prayer is called for? Are you a high priest of moral judgment, quick to identify blasphemy when a prophet may be speaking among you?

Do you prefer to turn aside as the innocent perish when to represent him or her requires too much of you? Are you presently mourning your denials and betrayals of loved ones, wishing you’d shown more courage? Will you dare to renew your loyalty to Christ and trust his forgiveness—or will you give yourself over to self-recrimination and despair? Do you draw down blood-guilt on generations to come because you are unwilling to act for justice today? Do you feel like a surprised bystander dragged into the realm of suffering like Simon of Cyrene, forced to bear a burden you didn’t seek? Are you here again this year to watch Jesus die on the cross, maybe to blame him for being there to begin with? Do you feel like a crucified victim yourself, bleeding and dying from a thousand blows delivered by a cruel and uncaring world?

Are you the walking dead this year, amazed to have been called from your tombs and given a second chance by the Lord of life? Are you centurion types, agnostic about the whole Jesus-event until an earthquake in your life shakes you into recognition of its importance? Have you been among the faithful ones all along, watching over their crucified Lord from a distance, waiting for the chance to minister to him in death as in life? Are you like the rich man from Arimathea, who got involved at the end and finally found a risk he was willing to take?

Wherever you find yourself, whoever you are this Holy Week, it does not have to be the defining moment of your discipleship. Easter gives you a second chance to become the child of God you long to be.

Reprinted with permission
Prepare the Word (©2015)

03 – March 29, 2015 Palm Sunday


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