When Bad Times Repeat Themselves

Palm Sunday, March 28, 2021, Mark 11:1-11

The Reverend Dr. Arnold Isidore Thomas

There are moments in time we can’t forget, no matter how hide we try. We may even remember where we were or what we were doing when they occurred. If you had the power to go back in time and alter these events, would you do so? Would you try to persuade Lincoln and his wife not to go to Ford’s Theater? Would you redirect the presidential motorcade so that the convertible carrying Kennedy would not turn onto the road with the grassy knoll and the book depository? Would you try to convince King not to walk onto the terrace of the Lorraine Motel? And if you could alter any of these events, how different would our world be? How different would you be?

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of a weeklong series of events we wish we could alter. Like the disciples who knew the dangers that awaited Jesus if he went to Jerusalem, we want to prevent him from returning to the city. However, the dangers that awaited Jesus were less in Jerusalem than within his own entourage, among his most trusted disciples.

And we who follow Jesus to this day must continually repeat his journey to Jerusalem, which journeys through our fears and impulses to run in the opposite direction, to do anything to save our lives, even if it means sacrificing his. Jesus knew this. He would do anything to save us, even if it meant offering himself as a sacrifice. What loving parents would not do the same for the children they love as a living example of how they might be raised in the light of unconditional love?

But the psalmist goes even further to say that even if you feel abandoned like an orphaned; even if your father and mother forsake you, God will never abandon you, but will lift you up (27:10).

Palm Sunday marks the final and most treacherous phase of our Lenten journey we are compelled to repeat with Christ, so that with each cycle we hold onto one another in a more protective embrace as parents hold onto their children; we hold onto each other in a more courageous union as devoted unwavering lovers; trusting that as we uphold each other, God is upholding us. 

Yes, even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, to paraphrase the psalmist, we will fear no evil, for God is with us. (23:4) Amen.