First I could hear the beat of the drum!
As we rounded the corner
toward the entrance of the church
my eyes met a huge mass of people processing in.
The colors and texture of their dress – splendid:
reds, yellows, oranges, blues, whites, greens.
Entering into the mix of the peoples,
the voices now deafening …
joyful … energetic … hopeful!
“Hosanna to the King.
Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!
Palms raised, bodies swaying,
a surety in their step,
despite their questions, their struggles,
their unfreedom, their fear.
Processing in together
and leaning into a new dawn of fresh possibility!
Simply a cathartic experience
and one that I have not experienced since.
In this African dawn on Palm Sunday 2006,
it became utterly clear that the church,
this community of faith had arrived at a climatic moment.
With Jesus and his disciples,
each one of them,
you and I,
the Church enter …
in faith …
into Holy Week.
as we each enter into the drama of this week … today,
who would ever imagine that this Jesus,
5 days later would be crucified
by the very same people who cry out:
Hosanna to our King! Blessed be the Lord!
For those of us who profess this faith,
we know it does not end with this tragic twist …
but it does end with a twist.
Looking to Jesus dying on the cross
one could think that this is the end …
and yet it isn’t …
It is the beginning of something new …
yet again …
Our attentiveness and our faith
to the nuances of this gripping story
helps us to believe …
once more …
that the tragic end we witness …
is certainly not the end.
We know this story all to well …
and for all of us gathered here,
this year has tested our faith,
in ways we could not even had imagined ….
having encountered and witnessed to hardships …
afflictions in any number of ways …
receiving a phone call re: the unexpected death of a close friend;
or finding out someone in our family as incurable cancer;
or what about the continued ethnic and religious cleansing;
or the 300,000 men, women and children –
at last count-
having died in the January Haiti earthquake;
or the unjust wars that still plague our world community;
or through the letting go of our very own aspirations.
And in all of these instances and many more,
we each are called in faith
to believe these losses are not necessarily the end …
Remember Jesus’ ever-familiar words …
I am the way, the truth, and life –
whoever follows me will have eternal life …
And what is this way toward eternal life?
Right through the heart of Jerusalem,
to a meal in the upper room,
to a garden in the middle of the night,
to an unjust trial with Pilate,
to the betrayal of Judas and Peter,
along the byways of Jerusalem,
to a place outside the city gates called the Skull …
Here Jesus’ cross is planted …
The cross … is the intersection …
that reorients us toward a new way …
the Way … Jesus’ way
through which we see differently …
experience new found freedom …
Our Lenten season
has afforded us several opportunities
to witness to stories that appear desperate … hopeless
and yet …
openings to an unexpected miracle …
new opportunity …
a blind man, Bartimaeus regains his sight;
a Samaritan woman thirsty shows up at the well
and leaves with her thirst quenched
and a new found freedom;
a dead man, Lazarus,
three days in the tomb,
finds a new life;
The faithful remembering Archbishop Oscar Romero –
who on this 30th anniversary of his martyrdom –
continues to deeply live in the hearts and faith
of the El Salvadoran people;
11 young men and women – your peers - going deeper,
listening to their yearnings,
that will lead each of them to that pool
to be washed clean and sent into a new way of living.
And what about any one of us in this Lenten season?
In our own letting go …
of dying to our unfree, selfish, desires, and having faith,
what have we received?
What new dawn of possibility will we enter into?
Let us go then – courageously – with Jesus
into the heart of Jerusalem …
into this Holy Week,
attentive to our hearts
and new the dawn of possibility.