Posted by: alliehope | March 16, 2008

Holy Week 1: Palm Sunday

Strange how quickly time passes. It seems like only yesterday that I was waking up at 4 a.m., staring down the barrel of another Lent. Now here it is, Palm Sunday, the start of the holiest week of the Christian year.

In a way, the spiritual and emotional turbulence of the past weeks have made it fly by, and in another way, they have made it seem like a Blue Line train crawling at six miles per hour in the subway: I know the train will eventually emerge into light, but the darkness around me seems to go on forever, punctuated only by the artificial lights guiding passengers and crew to the emergency exits should something happen and we need to bail out of the tunnel.

Maybe that’s saying something. Maybe that’s telling me that so much of what I define my life on is itself artificial: my job, my clothes, my taste in music, even my beliefs might be “artificial” if I am trying to hide behind them, instead of saying what I need to say. Maybe it’s also telling me that those things are my “emergency exits” to keep me from facing up to the fact that in a lot of ways, I’ve royally screwed up this Lenten season (with apologies to Melody Raines), and I have so much regret about it that I don’t know how to sort it all out.

After all, I started out with such great intentions: I would read the Bible daily, both morning and evening, pray more often, take on a deeper involvement in the work of compassionate service. But someone (and if anyone knows who, please let me know) said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. In light of that, I would say that my Lenten journey, at least on the face of it, has been unsuccessful.

But that isn’t to say that the entire thing is doomed. I’m about to come up out of the subway tunnel of my mind, by way of my heart: I have learned much about who I am, who I am not, and how I need to live my life. Very simply, I need to live my life by heart, not by main of mind alone. The strength of my intellect alone is not enough, since it can keep me blinded to the realities that God is trying to communicate to me on a heart-level about sin, repentance and deliverance. (A quick note on that link: that’s a message by one of the Teaching Pastors of my church, Randy Frazee. It’s very worthwhile to listen to, in coming to an understanding of the circle of sin and deliverance, and how it works in this day, in these lives–mine and yours, and ours as a community).

It is from this frame of reference, then, that I turn my eyes from the track behind me to this station: Palm Sunday. This is the day that Christians mark as the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11). It is a joyful celebration of Jesus and the recognition of His identity as Savior.

Of course, most of us who have been around the barn a couple times know that the fickle crowds who shouted His praise one day, within a few days time, would be calling for Him to be crucified. That reality points to the fickle nature of the human heart, how it can be motivated by envy, greed, fear, anger, hurt, instead of living in freedom. It certainly points it out in my life, since it was my sins that cried out “crucify Him”, even when I sang His praise. This is a much-troubling thing to me, one that I have yet to understand the full implications of. Suffice it to say for right now that Palm Sunday indicates, at least for me, a need for the grace of God to forgive me my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness (see 1 John 1:9).

And so, I pray at this station that I would become more sensitive to the stirrings of the Spirit in this Holy Week. I pray that He would give me fresh eyes, the eyes of my heart, to truly understand what’s going on around me and within me. I pray this for all of you, my readers, as well. I pray that He, in His power and wisdom, would reveal to you the meaning of Holy Week in a new way, and that the reality of Jesus’ precious sacrifice would enter into your whole being in ways it never has before. Blessings to all of you who call yourselves by the name “Christ-follower” in this important week.

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