Lent: Living the Questions (6) Palm Sunday & Holy Week
This week we watch Jesus, very intentionally, very knowingly, walk right into a confrontation with the power structures that seek to destroy him. He enters into this confrontation without any kind of defence—no armour, no strategy, no argument; just his presence. His presence is Divine Resistance to these massive strongholds.
He arrives at the city gates and crosses into the ancient city, which is both a symbol of God’s presence and people, and a symbol of Empire, knowing that most likely this confrontation will result in his very violent, very painful death. And still, he goes.
We are witnessing the fruit and fulfillment of Jesus’ wilderness experience. There, in the barren discomfort of the wilderness, he wrestled with temptation. There he chose whom he would worship. It was there that he set aside the empire’s vision of power, success, and popularity, and chose again God’s vision of kinship.
As we transition from Lent to Holy Week, let this be a reminder to us: we must not underestimate the power of the wilderness. Do not underestimate the power that comes to us as we sit within discomfort, leaning into the questions, welcoming the cold and heat and the loneliness and the hunger and the longing until we have clarity on the next step that love asks of us.
Ammon Hennacy, an American Christian pacifist and member of the Catholic Worker Movement, lived from 1893-1970 during a time of intense industrialization and militarization of America. In dialogue with these cultural forces, he wrote “Force is the weapon of the weak.” As Jesus enters Jerusalem, we see how moral fortitude and courageous love is true strength, not force and violence.
This is the Jesus we follow.
Not a John Wayne Jesus.
Not a nationalistic Jesus.
Not a white privilege Jesus.
Not a prosperity Jesus.
This Jesus, who made an absolute rejection of power, as it was wielded in his day and in ours.
We watch this Jesus move closer to his enemies. Move towards the hostility. Step closer to the violence that will be done against him as he forsakes the way of weapons for the way of the cross. Stepped towards, not away from, his enemies.
Hosanna. Lord have mercy.
Deep peace and blessing,
Rev. Anne Baxter Smith
Pastor, Church at Southpoint
The three images of Palm Sunday’s Visio Divina:
(1) Power Play, 2023. Artist: Lisle Gwynn Garrity Link
(2) Guatemala: Procession,1978. Artist: Betty LaDuke Link
(3) Jesus Enters the City / from The Passion of Christ—A Gay Vision, 2014. Artist: Douglas Blanchard Link
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