Two meditations for Palm Sunday evening
I wrote these meditations for tomorrow's Palm Sunday evening contemplative prayer at All Saints Episcopal Church, Greensboro, North Carolina. Someone (I can't be there as it turns out) will read these, slowly, on either side of a period of silence.
The meditations assume that those present will have been to the morning service and heard the gospel texts there, but perhaps they can speak to other people as well. You are welcome to use them privately or in public (with attribution if you use them publicly and have a printed worship leaflet, otherwise just use) and I would love to hear whether you make use of them or not.
I was going to wait till later to post the meditations, but since it is already morning in China and Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand I want our friends there to have them with plenty of time. Then on to European friends and then to these shores. Holy Week begins.
Have you noticed that in the Gospels, in all those other stories we have heard, long before the Passion, Jesus doesn’t say “worship me?” Have you noticed?
Jesus doesn’t say, “worship me.” He says “follow me.”
Here we are in the gateway to Holy Week, on the Sunday of the Passion.
It is the Sunday when we remember that the people waved green branches to celebrate Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem. It is the Sunday when we walk in procession and wave palms.
But when we enter the gate to this week we call Holy, we discover that if we want to honor this Jesus, we must listen to him, and watch him, and walk with him.
Walk with Jesus. Follow Jesus.
This is a week of listening, watching, walking.
We will follow Jesus this week. We will try to stay awake. We will become impatient. We will weep. We will lose hope. We will discover Jesus’ faithfulness to us and to our humanity. We will grow silent.
Only once a year do we remember the woman who appears in all four gospels and who anoints Jesus.
The story we heard this morning in the Gospel of Mark was probably the oldest of the four and thus the closest to the actual event.
The woman in this story has no name. We know her only as “a woman.”
Yet the Gospel author says, “Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”
We know the name of Jesus’ betrayer, Judas. We know the name of Peter, who fell asleep. We hear that this same Peter denied Jesus, not once but three times.
Yet we do not know the name of the woman who understood that Jesus’ life led to the cross, who knew that he was going to die, who demonstrated in her gesture the outrageous abundance of the love of God. This name we do not know.
“Wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”
On our path of faith, on our walk with Jesus, whom have we forgotten? Whom do we need to remember? Whose actions, whose memory, will offer us a vision for living?