Reflection for Palm Sunday
by Shannon Spencer
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.” This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,“Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
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. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matthew 21: 1-11, NRSV)
It's Terry. It's Abby.
It's me. It's you.
We're on a journey. All of us. On our way from the Lenten wilderness to Jerusalem. And thank God we aren't called to do it alone.
We're called to accompany Terry. Tall flamboyant Terry. Usually with something controversial to say and even more often something funny to share, Terry called me over to his table at 12 Baskets Café. I walked up behind him expecting his dry and at times inappropriate sense of humor. I placed my hand on his shoulder and said, "Yes, Mr. Terry..." His head turned slightly - just enough to look up - and I saw the tears. He was crying.
Immediately I assumed something was wrong, but before I could ask, Terry said, "This is so beautiful. It's just so beautiful." I was confused for a moment until I realized he was speaking about his plate - piled high with Chicken Tikki Masala, basmati rice, a slice of ham, and a spoonful of sweet potatoes. "Everyone should have this," he continued tearfully. "Every morning I think about not coming. But then I remember how grateful I am to be a part of this. So I come. And I brought these new friends I just met. Everyone should have a place like this." He wipes his nose and then offers to get the young woman still cold from sleeping outside the night before a hot cup of coffee.
And it's Abby.
Abby is 8 years old and has been to the Café 3 times. She comes with her dad who is a firefighter. In January, Abby joined us with an envelope and several painted pictures. She gave us the envelope which had a little over $30 in it. She said that over Christmas, she painted pictures while at home and then took them to her church. Following their worship service, Abby set up a stand and sold her art – letting folks know she was raising money for the homeless.
When I looked at her dad, he smiled and shrugged his shoulders. “She thought of this all on her own,” He said. Did I say she was 8?
It’s a Cafe. It’s Communion. It’s Church.
It's me. It's you. We're all on a journey.
Friends, as we enter into Holy Week may we hear the Hosannas. Carve out time to answer the crowd's question, "Who is this? Who is this humble king...this prophet of peace...this simplistic savior?" Who is he and how is he informing your life?
When the rest of the world expects you "to do," gather with a community who teaches how "to be". When the demands and expectations weigh heavily - remember who you are and the narrative to which you belong. When the crowd's cheers have turned from celebration to accusation, hear the question, "Who is this?" and trust in the Table that promises to always have space for one more.
Wave your palms in expectation...for Jesus will surely show up...
"Who is this?" asks the crowd -
It's Terry and it's Abby. It's me and it's you.
Hosanna in the Highest!
Prayer: Gracious and Loving God, we give you thanks for the many and various ways you make your presence known to us. Give us the vision to recognize you, the courage to follow you, and the comfort of trusting your promise of life everlasting. Amen.
Rev. Shannon Spencer is an ordained UCC pastor who currently serves as the founding directorof Asheville Poverty Initiative - the non-profit that runs 12 Baskets Café, as a chaplain at Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women and as the Adjunct Pastor for Missional Engagement at First Presbyterian in Asheville, NC. But most importantly, she is the mom to two beautiful and amazing girls!