31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
April 10, 2022
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
He was so excited. Going into Jerusalem with his family for Passover each year was always exciting. All around him were family and friends and neighbors. It already felt like a festival with all of these people. And then something about the crowd seemed to change. At 8 years old, he didn’t understand with his mind what was going on, but he knew deep inside that something special was happening. People started to turn and look back. A break formed in the crowd. Some people started to take off their coats and robes and put them down in the road. Others cut branches off the palm trees beside the road. What joy to join the crowd, shouting Hosanna and waving his branch. Then he saw the man riding on the donkey and he, too, put his branch down on the ground.
Ugh, Passover traffic. This coming week, it would be a challenge every day to get into Jerusalem to sell her wares. Then again, there were always more customers with all of the visitors to Jerusalem. It was a mixed blessing, when all the woman wanted was a simple blessing, okay maybe even a double blessing. And that blessing would be being able to lay her worries down, if only for a little while. That blessing would be having the burdens of life lifted from her shoulders, again if only for a little while.
She was so engrossed in her own thoughts that it took her a while to notice that the bustle of the crowd had changed. The buzz of conversation had turned to excited chatter, and some were even starting to shout “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9) The woman was so surprised. People were acting like the Messiah had arrived. Oh, how she wished. Oh, how she wished that like those laying their robes and branches down on the road, that she could lay her worries and burdens down before the Son of David, the King of kings.
They lived just outside Jerusalem, at Bethphage, and faithfully, each day, they journeyed together into the city to the Temple, to hear God’s Word, to pray and wait with expectation for God’s Messiah. Recently, they had been hearing stories, stories about the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee. He was different from the others. He didn’t talk about mustering up an army to take on the Romans. He spoke about love; about including all; about what God’s kingdom really looked like.
Just that morning, they had had the opportunity to see him themselves. They had gotten to hear more stories from those who had been traveling with him, learning from him, witnessing his healing miracles. And when the couple heard Jesus instruct his disciples to bring him a donkey and its colt, they got excited. This was what the prophet Zechariah had said – that unlike those others who came with their stallions and war-horses, God’s king would come in humility riding on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
The couple joined Jesus’ disciples. They excitedly shouted “Hosanna! Hosanna!” They rushed ahead to cut branches off the trees and lay them before Jesus, and as they did, they also placed their hopes and dreams before Jesus, their hopes and dreams that God’s kingdom was being created here on earth.
Different people, different situations in life, different experiences of this unique journey into Jerusalem, each one laying down what they had before Jesus.
We are different people, who each walk our own unique journey of life and faith, who each have a different relationship with God, our Creator, and Jesus Christ, our Savior.
On this Palm Sunday, as we join the crowd from long ago, waving our palms and shouting Hosanna, I invite you to think about what you wish, what you need to lay down before the ‘One who comes in the name of the Lord’.
And then, I invite you to create a representation of what you want to lay down before the King of kings, the Lord of lords. That representation can be as simple as writing ‘palm branch’ or ‘coat’ on a piece of paper. That representation can also be symbolic, like burdens and worries, hopes and dreams. Be as specific or general as you wish. Be as creative as you wish. Those in the Sanctuary are welcome to choose materials from the tables up front.
And when you are ready, any time throughout the service, I invite you to place your Palm Sunday offering on the communion table or in a special place in your home.
With gladness and joy, we join with all Christians throughout all time in shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9)
I invite you to create your Palm Sunday offering and lay it before the ‘One who comes in the name of the Lord’, Jesus the Christ, our Messiah.