Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Mark 11:1-11 or John 12:12-16
Today’s readings focus on what has become known as Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week. For centuries, the church commemorated this special day because of the palm branches and cloaks that the crowd spread out before Jesus as He proceeded toward Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey. Jesus entered Jerusalem accompanied by a group of followers that he had been connecting with all along: the outcast, the sick and blind, the possessed and foreigners. The crowd that shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” would have been laughed at by any sensible member of society who happened to witness this ‘strange’ celebration. Commentators Borg and Crossan in their book The Last Week wrote that this celebration of Palms is a counter-procession, mimicking an imperial procession entering the other side of Jerusalem with war horse, chariot and weapons. Accordingly, the imperial procession was meant to amplify the emperor’s power over the weak and the powerless. So, on the first celebration of Palms, we have Jesus and his followers creatively re-imagine their weaknesses as strengths. They did not deny their poverty as the very instruments of celebration (i.e. palms, cloaks and a borrowed donkey) proclaimed it publicly, but they resisted the empire and celebrated their own messiah rather than worshipping at the feet of a political tyrant.
This Holy Week, may Mark’s story of Jesus’ subversive ride continue to challenge and inspire us as we discern how God is calling us today in our time and context to follow Jesus’ nonviolent way of counter-action in resisting all forms of life-denying forces and systems. The celebration of Palms should cause us to pause and stand in solidarity with the vulnerable and the fearful who are facing storms of various kinds in their lives. As Psalm 84:11 reminds us, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favour and honour; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”
-Takluem Cherry, Presbyterian Church of Myanmar
Thank you Lord, even though life is already hard enough without this Coronavirus that has spread around the world. We always remember that Your ways are better than our ways, and Your will is beyond our wills. We put our trust in You. We pour out our praise and devotion to You, as You have never failed us and we know You never will. Through your son Jesus Christ our saviour and Lord, Amen.
Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China
Hong Kong and the world are under the threat of COVID-19. Please pray for the people in different countries to put in concerted and effective effort to fight against the pandemic. May the Lord protect all medical staff and give them strength to provide adequate services to citizens.
Hong Kong is facing social unrest because of political issues. Pray that the government will take the initiative to address those issues and try to solve deep-seated social conflicts with all stakeholders.
Pray for all local churches of HKCCCC to embrace the mission to serve those in need in the society, including people with disabilities, the elderly, foreign domestic helpers, new immigrants, refugees and prisoners.
(Image credit: Jay Directo/AFP)