Palm Sunday: Which Procession Are You In?

One of the treasures in my life is the ability to lose myself in a song. Closing my eyes and allowing the words and music to play through me – to stop listening with my ears and listen with my heart. As the music washes over me, my mind relaxes, my breathing slows and I quietly drift into unexpected places of creation.

The words I hear from the song playing at the moment are “your love amazes me…” I wonder “whose” love it is that is amazing me right now, and what’s so amazing about it? It’s an interesting thread to follow – to spend time wondering whose love is amazing me. A couple of times the thoughts creep in, “Really? Do they love me? How do I know? Do I love them? How would they know I love them?” I am still awed by the idea of someone’s love amazing me. I can feel the sweetness of it. A smile crosses my face, my heart opens a little wider, and my body relaxes a little into the idea. Isn’t that what the Easter story is all about, loving me, loving you – being amazed by each other?

If I really embrace Easter, go all the way into it, I realize it’s not a once a year event, and I don’t do it alone. It’s a journey of transformation, of letting go, of intentional renewal to live as my truest self. All of which requires love – not the squishy, chocolate, bunny kind of love, but love that is a magnetic harmonizing force. The force that moves the cosmos is the same force that moves the human heart, that’s the love I’m talking about. It’s not a feeling, but a transformative healing energy. It changes everything.

Two Processions

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, culminating on Easter Sunday. In the story of Palm Sunday from the Gospel of Mark, two processions entered Jerusalem. One of those processions entered from the east; it was a peasant procession with Jesus riding a donkey proclaiming the kingdom of heaven. He had just spent the last 3 years upsetting the wisdom and culture of the day with a new way of being – love, compassion and forgiveness.

The other procession entered from the west, an imperial procession with the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate at the head of the cavalry. Imagine the horses, drums, soldiers, weapons, music, noise and dust. It was a demonstration of Roman imperial power and Roman imperial theology – a hullabaloo of might, force and strength!

Interestingly most people today don’t know that the imperial procession was something well known to Jews of the first century. This was the beginning of the week of Passover – the most sacred week of the Jewish year, and it was standard practice for the Roman governors to be in Jerusalem for major Jewish festivals. Roman rule was the order of the day, and the Romans made sure everyone knew it, and were not about to be outdone by any other festival. And least of all a Jewish holy day that commemorated the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage!

That would mean that Jesus probably chose this day on purpose to enter Jerusalem. It was a prearranged counter-procession; he knew he wouldn’t be the only excitement for the day! There’s something inside me that leaps with joy when I discover someone being oppositional to an institution in the name of compassion. It happens to be a story very much alive in my own life right now.

Which one do you choose?

So it’s Palm Sunday… which procession will I be in? An “imperial” procession – of power, will, ego, the old ways? Or a procession of love and compassion? Isn’t that why I am so moved by the words “your love amazes me?” Because you are bringing me into a procession of love when I have lost my way? As I listen to my music and allow it to wash through me while following the thread of “your love amazes me” I look inside my mind and heart, listening, noticing what is clogging my ability to love and be loved. I become so quiet, so silent that I can hear the beginning breath of a new world, a new love.

Each day shall I choose an imperial procession of power and fear? Or when I am suffering, will I allow those around me to draw me toward them by keeping myself open to being amazed by the love, compassion and forgiveness offered? And will I choose to amaze you with love, compassion and forgiveness?

The Palm Sunday story is a powerful example of changing the world through the power of intelligent love by intentionally letting go of what does not serve me, and in living my truest self, and trusting – being each other’s hands, feet and eyes when we cannot see where our journey of transformation is going. That’s the message of Jesus, the Easter message. Jesus did not offer a message of death and salvation from sin, but rather his message was an invitation of love and compassion, to abide in each other – to be in the procession where we belong to each other.