By Rev. Anna Blaedel
Palm Sunday, dear ones, was a protest. A march. A demonstration. A witness. Roman leaders of Empire generally wanted Jerusalem lightly policed, knowing that transparent tactics of fear and control could foment resistance. Except during large festivals. Passover was a large festival. Telling the story of freedom. Of exile and return. Of liberation from Pharaoh’s oppression and captivity. There’s nothing like a festival commemorating the deliverance of people from their oppressors to make the modern-day oppressors nervous.
The people shouted “hosanna!” Save us.
Jesus—a Jew, a teacher and healer and prophet—had been working to do exactly that. Working for justice and liberation and healing, working to save people from the systems of supremacy and domination resulting in poverty, racial and ethnic hierarchy, gender oppression, sexual shame, violence, retribution.
The Holy Week story is a story that binds our stories together:
Being betrayed by people, institutions, and systems unwilling to summon courage to take risks on behalf of justice, kindness, compassion, care.
The holy challenge of getting woke, staying awake, and continuing to tend to beauty and pain together, without becoming bitter.
The horrible powers of institutions and institutional leaders to wield harm and death, while saying their hands are tied, and nothing else is possible.
The holy power of ordinary people resisting by telling the truth, tending to each others’ needs, and refusing to just go along to get along.
How the healing salve of salvation comes, unexpectedly, when it seems like all is lost. especially when it seems like all is lost.
We know that there is no Easter without Good Friday. We know that life and death are bound together. We know that violence and healing are, too. Today we sit, and linger, and tend to the mess of it all. We grieve. We keep vigil. We listen. We lament. We open ourselves to how this story is still unfolding…
[You’re invited to read, to listen, to reflect to this weaving of poetry, scripture, and song]
What Abides, by Jan Richardson
Bernice Johnson Reagon, There’s a New World Coming
Lp, Don’t Let Me Down
Odetta, Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
Sweet Honey in the Rock, I’m Gonna Stay on the Battlefield
Sweet Honey in the Rock, Wade in the Water
Nina Simone, I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free
Sia, Bird Set Free
The Magdalene’s Blessing, by Jan Richardson