It’s a gray and cloudy Palm Sunday morning with a forecast of rain and snow, even though spring has sprung all around here in this past week. A couple of days ago after a night of long steady rain, everything turned green and the tulips opened up to show their sunny faces and now, just a few days later, … snow. Well that’s the nature of weather in Chicago. I love living where there are four seasons and I find it fascinating and smile provoking when we get to experience all four in the span of a week; the forecaster is telling me that by Tuesday we’ll be in the 70s with warm rains as if it were summer. The confusion of weather speaks to me of the range of emotions during Holy Week.
Those of us who are Christians are entering into the celebration of Holy Week: from Palm Sunday today through Easter Sunday. Our services will commemorate events of two thousand years ago, events that speak to us here today in this time, in this place – in your time and in your place.
We remember the joyous entry of Jesus into Jerusalem with the masses spreading their cloaks and palm branches in his path heralding his coming, proclaiming their love for him and their belief in his teachings and we will begin our services with palm processions and great joy. But, within minutes we will take our part in the scripture readings as we raise our own voices to echo the crowds of that time in their call to “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
How many “saviors” have captured the hearts and minds of the masses, have captured your heart and mind and mine, only to be crucified by public opinion or the actual assassin’s bullet, for standing up and daring to disrupt the status quo. I’m thinking of an old song from the 60s, Abraham, Martin and John: a song of the the lives of Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King, John Kennedy, as well as his brother Bobby, that were cut short in their struggle to change the status quo of slavery and oppression for our African-American sisters and brothers. (For those of you too young to remember that song, you can hear it tonight between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. during our Sabbath as Resistance hour on our radio station. Click on the link in the sidebar or on the menu.)
Here we are more than two thousand years from the events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, more than one hundred and fifty years since Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, more than fifty years since the revolutionary times of the beginning the civil rights movement, and we are still fighting the injustices of oppression of people by other people.
Whether you are a believer or not, we can all take this week as a time to examine where we stand. Are you one of the people raising their voice for peace and justice, standing up for the rights of others even though you may risk persecution yourself? Do you hear the voices crying for change and get annoyed, counting them as fanatics, crazies, conspiracy theorists? Do you tacitly approve injustice by your silence? Do you yourself feel the constraints of oppression and do you go along just to get along, afraid that you’ll be alone in your search for respect and freedom?
I ask myself these questions and I’m not very happy with my answers. I could do more.