Palm Sunday Devotion & Prayer
April 6, 2020
Palm Sunday devotion provided by Rev. Susan Roddey, Director of Spiritual Life at Abernethy Laurels
“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... 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. (Matthew 21:1-3)
Today marks the beginning of Holy Week. How different it is not being able to gather and go through this week in the company of each other, from Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, to the Last Supper, to his crucifixion, to the celebration of Easter Day. Yet we are not alone. If we believe in the power of the Holy Spirit then we trust that we are gathered in spirit with each other at Abernethy Laurels, with the members of our families and our churches and with millions of Christians throughout the world who also are confined to their homes.
If we were reading the gospels and hearing about the story of Jesus for the first time, not even knowing about the crucifixion and the resurrection, then when we come to this passage where Jesus rides into Jerusalem cheered on by the crowds we might think at last he was going to overthrow the ruling powers and become king. Yet something would throw us off – something doesn’t seem right – Jesus is riding a donkey and its colt. He is riding a beast of burden, a homely, ugly animal with its too large ears and sagging back. He specifically asked for this mother and colt and even knew where to find them. This choice might jolt us into what Jesus had been demonstrating in his life all along – he is not the hero that the crowds thought he should be and that perhaps we want him to be. He chooses humility over pride and disrupts our ideas of power and politics. Yet, the Messiah riding a donkey is exactly according to God’s plan. If we don’t understand this, then we don’t understand the meaning of the crucified Christ. A mark of true Christians is whether they live their lives with humility, which is not to be mistaken with being humiliated. Do we feel like being Christian entitles us to feel a sense of superiority over those who are not, or do we recognize that self-serving pride might be the very thing that drives others away from the faith? How we act is who we become. Let us become Christ-like and understand that a Messiah must ride a donkey.
Prayer: O God, we pray that you may cleanse us from any self-serving ways and help us to live lives of the humility that comes from faith in Christ.