Sunday, April 1 this year can be celebrated two different ways, but I wonder if they somehow come together.
You can recognize the day to be April Fool’s Day: the day to play a creative and loving prank (hopefully a loving prank) on a family member or a friend.
In the calendar of the Christian Church, it is also Palm Sunday. The name comes from the palm branches that were waved during a curious and spontaneous parade, when Jesus rode on a young donkey into the city of Jerusalem. For some, the parade might have looked a little foolish: indeed, it was an April Fool’s Day! It reminds me of times I have taken a ride on a small scooter. How cool can you really look on a scooter?
Jesus’ donkey ride was also a bit of a surprise to many. Many people wondered if he was coming into the city to get rid of the Romans. If so, it would have been more impressive to enter with some fanfare and splash. Many anticipated a military parade with a powerful king on a war horse or in a chariot. Instead, a grown man on a little donkey came riding by them. He had no armour and no weapons. He was by himself. The crowds cheered and waved their palm leaves and branches, but I wondered how many also chuckled and laughed.
You see, there was another parade that same day on the opposite side of the city. At the same time, just before the large festival that was beginning in Jerusalem, the Roman governor was also riding into town. And he did have a large contingent of Roman legionnaires in front of him, marching in columns. He was riding a powerful war horse. The armour and weapons gleamed in the sunlight. It was all very serious. No one cheered. Everyone was made to be afraid.
Jesus’ donkey ride was an intentional bit of foolishness. Perhaps that was the point. It was a political and spiritual protest. You could call it ‘Occupy- Jerusalem’! This was festive street theatre and a joyful parody of the much more serious and threatening military parade on the other side of the city.
We could use a few more ‘holy fools’ to remind us how we might find the true power of love and live together in non-violence and with deep respect for each other.
If you would like to join us for some Palm Sunday foolishness and a small parade (and a Mexican fiesta… it is rather complicated how this all came about!), we would enjoy your company on Sunday morning, April 1 at 10 am at St. Alban’s Anglican Church.
Palm Sunday begins the journey called Holy Week; the week ends with Easter Sunday. Everyone is most welcome to all the gatherings. We are having seven days full of gatherings to mark this important time in our journey through life.
Monday to Thursday night, April 2-5, we are gathering at 6 pm for dinner each evening and will share a contemporary circles practice for learning and prayer. On Good Friday, April 6, we are gathering for a quieter reflection on Jesus’ death. Easter morning, Sunday, April 8 is a 10 am service of celebration of the power of new life.
Easter joy and blessings to all.
Rev. Dan Hines