From the Team Rector, The Revd Canon Paul Cubitt
On Palm Sunday Christians up and down the country will peacefully journey to churches remembering Jesus’ triumphal journey into Jerusalem. Sometimes we follow a donkey, sometimes not. We will be carrying palm crosses with us and perhaps handing them over to passers-by. Our Palm Sundays are very quiet. Tame. In Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday there was revolution in the air. Many Jews at that time were keen to overthrow their Roman oppressors. Crowds had speculated over who Jesus was. There were pilgrims in the city full of excitement. Was Jesus the one? A Messiah to drive out the enemy? They thought so and hoped so. Branches were ripped off trees, waved and scattered on the road. Euphoric cries, ‘Blessed be the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’ could be heard from the city.
If the crowds had looked more closely, they would have noticed Jesus was not riding a war horse. It was a mere colt. Small and insignificant. Jesus and his followers did not bring in the heavy armament of the day or weapons of war. Just some disciples and an exuberant crowd. He came in peacefully and humbly. As always, the kingdom he spoke of was not about war and fighting, but of peace, gracious living, and compassion. He was a different kind of King.
I am conscious when writing that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is continuing, and I have no idea when or how it will end. Before the invasion started, I could understand the insecurities of Russia being threatened by the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO. Many people hit-out when threatened. But there must be a better way. There has to be. Jesus entered Jerusalem peacefully, but his presence still caused a stir. Jewish religious leaders were threatened by his action of driving out the money changers from the temple, ‘you have made my house a den or robbers’ he told them. And when the religious leaders challenged the Roman authorities to act against Jesus, they used the language of ‘king of the Jews’ implying a threat to the reign of Caesar, to get hearing. When that failed it was the hostile language of the populace crying ‘crucify’ which won the day.
No wonder Jesus had wept over the city of Jerusalem. How many times had voices spoken about making peace with God and how often had humanity turned a blind eye? Yet, even when raw hatred and cruelty of men with venomous hearts lashed and tormented Jesus on Good Friday, he loved, and kept loving. No tongue lashing. No cursing. He took it, all alone. And finally, on the cross, he uttered, ‘It is finished’. He took the full force of hatred to the cross. He took the misplaced dreams and fantasies of people of power to the cross. He took it all.
And on Easter day he rose. The call to follow him remained and still does. To follow is to live the way he lived, loving God, loving neighbour, and loving oneself; is the way to go. It is costly but it leads to life and life in all its fullness. It is God’s gift. It is why we celebrate Easter. It is all about life and a new life for us. Why not join us at Easter – you will be most welcome.
On Tuesday 26th April the Revd Laura Purnell was licensed at Team Vicar and School’s Worker in the Dereham & District Team Ministry at a service in All Saints’ Church, Shipdham.
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