Last night I had choir rehearsal after a long day of work. Before rehearsal, I’d sung on the worship team during the Lenten service, so by 7:15, I was ready to be home and in sweatpants. I’d sworn to my friend Chris that I would stay at least for the rehearsal of our big anthem piece but then I was going to go home. After we were done with the large piece, I thought, “I really want to go home, but I should probably stay for at least another song… because I said I would.” So I did. I was out the door and on my way back to the house where I’m housesitting this week by 8:09. As I pulled up to the stoplight at the intersection where I turn, I noticed a large, four-car accident. I couldn’t help but think to myself that if I had left even five minutes earlier, I could have been one of the cars in that pileup (and my poor car didn’t need to be in another accident– I’ve had her for 5 months, and she’s been in 3 different accidents already). I said a prayer of thanks that something compelled me to stay an extra 10 minutes so that I wasn’t involved, and I also prayed for the safety of the people involved. I was so thankful for, what I assume, was divine intervention keeping me safe.
This morning as I turned that corner, I was listening to some of the music that we’ll be singing in worship this weekend for Palm Sunday. All of a sudden, it hit me– I absolutely hate Palm Sunday. Sure, it’s a joyous celebration of Jesus entering Jerusalem, with people shouting his praise, giving him the king’s treatment he deserved. Then, only 5 days later, those same crowds turn into angry mobs, and all of a sudden Jesus is murdered by the people he came to set free with the truth.
So where’s the connection between last night’s thankfulness and this morning’s revelation? It’s here: I am those crowds turned angry mobs. My entire relationship with Jesus is one long, ongoing contradiction. One moment I’m thanking him for my safety and in the next breath I’m asking him why I’m still unemployed, or why my mom is sick, or why I had to lose Grandpa in such a painful way. I go from rejoicing in my acceptance of eternal life to questioning all his authority when something goes awry.
I know I’m not alone in this. I feel like most of us experience this at least on a daily basis. The reason is that we are situational people. We don’t have the ability to see anything but the picture in front of us. Not to mention that it’s easy for us to say “God doesn’t ‘make’ bad things happen…” when good things are happening but the second misery strikes, all we can think is, “God, how could you?” In one breath we are singing hosannas, and in the next we are calling for his demise whether it be through our actions, words, or thoughts.
There’s a reason we need Easter. It’s because we are constantly in a fight between Palm Sunday and Good Friday. We are constantly being torn between our humanity and our desire to be people of God. I hate Palm Sunday because it reminds me that Good Friday is coming. It reminds me that my own humanity is inevitable and eventually I’ll fall victim to denouncing Jesus. I will fall victim to my own human nature. I hate falling victim to anything, but I hate it more when it’s to myself.
So this Palm Sunday, I’ll rejoice in the triumph of my God, knowing full well that my praises will come to an end and my desires of the flesh will take over. It’s inevitable. And right now, I don’t have a fix for it. The best I can do is expect it to happen. I think I’m going to leave it at that. Not because I don’t know what else to say, but because there’s something beautiful in being able to leave problems without solutions and questions without answers.