Tales From The Trail: #1 Hope Springs Forth From Human Hearts

Triumphal Entry #3
Scripture Reading: Mark 11:1-10
Prayer: Easter Prayer

The journey to Jerusalem was an annual custom for faithful Jews.  It was a time to remember the greatest event in the history of their people, the Passover.  In many ways, this event in which God through Moses delivered them from the grip of Pharaoh was the defining moment for them as a people.  As God brought the plagues and parted the sea for them to pass through, they were able to escape from their former way of life.  Though they had eluded their captors, the quest for a new identity was just beginning.  Soon they camped at Mt. Sinai where God delivered the Ten Commandments, outlining the basis for community life in the image of God.  Decades of wondering, teaching, and reorienting followed.   Then finally God gave the Promised Land to a somewhat prepared people.

A somewhat prepared people.  Does that sound like the group with which you would self-identify?  Me too!  In this period of quarantine, we all question our preparation for the moment.  We all struggle for hope.  The struggle is real.  The struggle is old.  Consider the plight of God's people two millennia ago.  They knew their history.  They knew the greatness of their kingdom in the days of David and Solomon.  They knew their national sin: the idols, the unfaithfulness to YHWH, the exile that resulted.  They believed that the sin and exile would end, and the greatness would return, but only by another act of Divine Intervention.

The week of Passover was a time both of remembering a glorious past and envisioning a better future.  This is the week that would become our Holy Week, the week Jesus would become our selfless sacrifice and our victorious overcomer.  It was a week in which people were charged with emotion.  They were ready and hopeful that something would happen, something that would change the trajectory of their life in this world.  

That was the hope of the pilgrims who were making their final ascent into Jerusalem on that fateful Sunday that we now call Palm Sunday.  They had heard of Jesus, his teachings, miracles and claims.  There was a buzz that He could be the Messiah and that this could be the week he flexed his Messianic muscles and reestablished the Davidic Kingdom by throwing the Romans out of the sacred city of Jerusalem.  The crowds were "sitting on go."  They were ready!
They were ready to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem.  They were ready for God to do what they wanted him to do.  Maybe they weren't quite ready for what God was actually going to do.  But then, who among us is?  As we prepare our hearts for Easter, we come expectantly.  Yet our expectations must not be our own.  We pray for hearts not set on our own will, but trusting in God's will and ways.  We pray for joy that comes not in the circumstances that surround us, even lock us in our houses.  Rather we seek joy in the presence of an ever present Savior.  

Triumphal Entry #2

Do you feel God's presence today?  If not, try this.  Close your eyes and imagine yourself among thousands of pilgrims climbing the steep hill that leads to Jerusalem.  Listen as the noise level in the distance begins to go up.  You hear the wave of emotion moving toward you as the shouts get louder and louder.

Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna.
    Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna.
          Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna.
              Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna.
                    Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna.
                        Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna.

We don't know what is going to happen this week.  Neither did they.  But with them we rejoice in the presence of Jesus and we put our hope in the Christian claim that whatever happens, whatever we face, we are not alone because we are...


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