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March, 24 2015

Passion Sunday (B)

Rev. Tom Mannebach

 

Crowds are a fickle bunch.

One minute they are on your side,

but at a moment’s notice,

they can turn against you.

 

People in crowds

find safety in numbers.

They can hide in a crowd.

They can behave in ways

they would never would

if only the spotlight were on them.

 

Palm Sunday readings

are a fickle set.

We might give them a byline of our own:

A tale of two crowds.

 

The first crowd is exuberant.

At the gates of the city

they welcome Jesus—

their prophet, their warrior, and their hero.

Their cloaks strewn on the ground

are like a first century version

of the red carpet treatment.

 

In adoration and greeting

they wave palm branches,

signs of welcome and homage,

gestures afforded only to a king.

 

But then there is the second crowd.

Assembled in a governor’s courtyard,

they undergo a change of scenery.

 

Now

their eyes see differently.

Their mouths speak a foreign tongue.  

Instead of a king, they now see a criminal.

Instead of a leader, they now see a traitor.

Instead of shouts of “Hosanna”

They now shout for a cross.

 

Palm Sunday is a tale of two crowds.

We can only wonder

how a people who praise in the morning

can only condemn by afternoon.

 

Crowds are fickle bunch.

 

Maybe that’s why we believe in our king

Not as a crowd would, but as a community.

Weaknesses and betrayals aside,

a community remains steadfast

and knows what a king is about.

 

As we enter the most solemn week of the church year,

we look upon our king on a cross

and see neither a criminal nor a warrior.

 

What we do see

is the self-offering love of God

who eschews hatred and revenge

who knows only mercy and faithfulness

and whose only desire

is to be with us in all of life.

 

Who can abandon a king,

who refuses to abandon us?

 

 © Rev. Thomas Mannebach

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