Hi friends! Today features the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem by way of the donkey better known as Palm Sunday. You'll notice that Matthew's account does not mention the palms and focuses on the donkey only though. This is because the prophecy only mentions the donkey and Matthew wanted to lean into the fulfillment message as strongly as possible. The concept of people laying the palm branches and and cloaks at his feet was something they did for David in 2 Kings, but was never referenced by the prophets as something necessary for Jesus entry. Today's scripture shows us an angry Jesus and some more hints about the kingdom of heaven. What universal theme can you see running through the scripture today?
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
What does this teach me about Jesus?
What theme is running throughout the scripture today?
How can I live out the "most important commandment" today?
- My Thoughts -
Ok I'm sure two days in a row of me pushing back against Jesus doesn't look good for my job prospects but I have thoughts about the Parable of the Great Feast and the implications that it has on presentation before God. So, I really get down to the first part of this feast because it sounds like the gates of heaven are opened wide from an invite only to everyone is welcome. Nice! I see you Jesus, I like this. But then the end of it has a king notice someone who doesn't appear in their "Sunday best" the king has them bound up and tortured. Okay Jesus, sit down, we gotta chat.
I remember as a kid I learned to love suits because of church. Sunday meant I had an excuse to get all dressed up and show off my suit and new ties and shirts and stuff. I remember when I first got called into ministry I was most excited about buying a really fancy robe and wearing it all the time. I also marveled at the Catholic priests in their weird cardinal hats and all the high symbology of "Looking like a clergy". For my first two years in ministry I did wear those things all the time and I loved it. But after serving a poor church in inner city Cleveland and after studying Jesus and reading the Bible I realized I was much more like the pharisee's in their fancy bedazzled robes than I was like Jesus in a dirty tunic. I noticed the people come into church wearing torn up t shirts, paint covered jeans, and basketball shoes with frayed laces and I suddenly became unapproachable for many of them in my thousand dollar suit and and fancy clothing. My appearance made people feel ashamed of their own appearance and I vowed that as a clergy I would always be the least dressed person in the room from then on. I wanted to look at a poor person and say "you look fantastic today - I love your outfit!" and give them the vote of confidence they might not get otherwise.
Unfortunately for many churches this is a sticking point and in some ways a generational issue that I think needs to be addressed if churches ever hope to not turn away younger generations. Perhaps I'm taking up a controversial point but I argue that God doesn't give an thought to what your appearance looks like when you show up to church. God does care what your soul looks like when you praise. And as people of God, we do NOT have the authority or right to tell people what they must look like in order to worship God. If you're most comfortable wearing your Sunday best then God bless you. If someone is most comfortable in jeans and a t shirt, then God bless them. If someone wants to wear a hat when preaching. God bless them. *ahem*
Therefore, I think the meaning of this parable is not what our physical appearance looks like before God, but what our souls look like. I reinforce this belief because Jesus was just upset earlier about money and it's place in the temple (suits are expensive y'all) and the fact Jesus served outcasts on the side of the road and invited fisherman to be his closest followers.
So come as you are and find the love of God for all people.
Praying the Hymns
Our prayer for today is inspired by a hymn that I don't think you will have ever heard of but I think carries a pretty powerful message. It's got a pretty good tune and lots of energy so I don't know why more churches don't use this one. It's called "Joy to the World". Give it a listen, I think you might like it ;)
1. Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.
2. Joy to the world, the Savior reigns! Let all their songs employ; while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy, repeat, repeat the sounding joy.
3. No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; he comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found, far as, far as the curse is found.
4. He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness, and wonders of his love, and wonders of his love, and wonders, wonders of his love.