Who is this? Let’s Pray… Rev. Stuart C. Buisch
What a great question. Who is this? The ‘city’ asked, the crowds answered. What does that look like? Is it a cheer back and forth? The staging is pretty curious. Jesus sends his disciples off for a donkey, rather the colt of a donkey and Matthew tells us this fulfills prophecy, an especially important detail for his readers. Jews wanted to know if there were things about this man that gave credence to his being the anointed one, the Messiah.
But once the colt arrived the story breaks out. With no explanation Jesus’ disciples lay their extra clothes on the colt and then others put them on the dusty road. Others cut branches to make a clean path for the donkey. The imagery of a king is clear to everyone and the crowd forms around Jesus and the city are looking out their yards/windows, from the shops along the way. It’s almost impossible to believe that such a gathering and grouping of conversations could be known or experienced. Did everyone in the crowd with the colt know that Jesus was the Messiah. Is this a one stop-light town with not much happening so any happening became an event? Was there so much excitement that everyone following along just joined for the activity or did they believe?
We can journey down this rabbit hole a bit more but the more relevant question today is who is this one on a colt for each of us today? Palm Sunday is number three in church services of the year, behind, Christmas and Easter. It is the thing to do. Except that we have been in Covid for a year. Vaccinations are becoming more common but so are some of the details of this pandemic. Most people know someone who has gotten the virus. Many know someone who has died. Others have heard stories and wonder what the truth is. Sound familiar?
If you were to name the five individuals whose names and photo you recognize but have never met the list might be interesting. Sabres, Bills, Movie stars, bloggers, politicians, Who are your list of five? Maybe like the city there are loads of people you have heard of but never seen. Maybe you have been around someone who has met one of yours, went to their concert, watched them in the stadium. Maybe a more important point is why are they on your list? Is it their skill, their prowess, their looks, their reputation, their generosity, advocacy?
If you were at home when the Jesus parade went by would you look up or just carry on with your work, relaxation, hobby? The city asked the crowd. What makes someone shift from city to crowd?
Some of you here were baptized here as a child or older. At that point you said with or without words that you wanted to eventually join the crowd following Jesus. At a later point you said you wanted to raise your family, and/or the children around you too to know Christ, to learn his ways, to walk in ways of humility, charity, kindness and justice like Christ did. In the excitement of a small child, even if you, as a parent, haven’t slept for weeks, promises are perhaps easier to make. As those same children become teens, journey through puberty and then become adults your promises have to shift to their promises.
Who Jesus is for you is not necessarily who Jesus is for your children, the people who live around you and even your thoughts about who Jesus is for you could change.
Who Jesus is, is not once for all time. Each day our choices illuminate the answer to who Jesus is for us for that day.
Matthew 21:11 quotes the crowd describing Jesus as the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee. This week a 21-year-old allegedly killed 8 people. Some Christians and adherents to other faiths believe that the actions they commit further the beliefs that they hold. On the covid unit patients hear me singing to other patients and some look forward to my coming in and singing a hymn or Psalm with them or to them. Kind of a parade of pastoral presence. But the bottom line continues to be for each of us, Who is this? Implied, Who is this for me? What does Jesus’ presence mean in my life, the life of my family, either at home with me or halfway around the world; in the struggle of ill health or our thriving each day?
Every day I answer that question whether it is on my mind or not? Every hour of the day, my words, acts, attitudes display Jesus’ role in my life or his absence. It is pretty easy to have a picture of Jesus in the wall of faces in our soul. It is different again getting out of your yard and becoming a part of the parade. But do you love the Jesus prophet enough to find out who he is for you? Do you walk in his ways enough to get in trouble for being Christ-like, kind, just, respectful? Does your experience of Jesus in your soul jar your participation in the cultures that are normal in our day? In the name of the Mountain Maker, the Savior of sinners and the Presence of God right here, amen.
Holy God, Source of all, help us to fully rely on you…
Pain bearer, suffering servant, strengthen us to enter your story and the story of others…
Wind of God, breathe energy and obedience to your will into us…