Sabbatical, Day 64: Palm Sunday Pain

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Today, I start a new series of videos produced by Damaris Trust for Holy Week. In the first one above, Richard Collins talks about Jesus’ rather unusual entrance into Jerusalem. He discusses the significance of this event in terms of what it tells us about the kind of king that Jesus is, and the kind of kingdom into which he calls us.

Palm Sunday can be taken as a joyful day. We think of the crowds waving their palm branches, welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem. Yet as we know, pain is in the background. ‘Bow thy meek head to mortal pain, then take O Christ, thy power and reign,’ we sing in the hymn ‘Ride on, ride on in majesty’, which is laced with the anticipation of the Passion.

Right now, Debbie and I feel pain for friends. In the last few months, three Christian couples we know have separated. All have children. Sometimes we think we might know a partial truth of what has happened, but we have been careful to keep quiet and definitely not to extrapolate a small amount of data on its own to form conclusions. Our rôle is to be available if wanted, and most of all to pray.

I think each time the two of us talk privately about these tragedies, we give each other a certain look. It says, ‘There but for the grace of God we go.’ Not that God’s grace isn’t available to our friends – of course it is – but the sense that things can start sliding from small things, or something from the past we thought was buried might boomerang back from over the horizon and hit us, or we might make an uncharacteristic slip.

Not that I’m saying this is what happened with any of our friends, because we simply don’t know, and we don’t want to speculate. Rather, it’s that sense that we all need the mercy of God. We also need to keep that fine balance between the sense of security in mutual love and yet not allowing ourselves to take things for granted.

I think that’s all I want to say tonight. Say a prayer for these couples, for us, and for yourselves, whatever your domestic and family circumstances. May God guard us all. May we do our part in response. And may God work in the lives of our wounded friends.


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