For Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday_1

Today’s calendar says “Palm Sunday” in small italicized letters, and on the way to church this morning we read the original event from Matthew 21. We briefly discuss the significance of the Day, what it meant for the people of that time, and how it could impact us today- if we let it.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt.

Not a fierce horse, or a war prepared chariot.

On a colt. An untrained borrowed colt.

/ / / / / / / / / /

We enter the sanctuary and quickly find our chosen pew. Comfortable. Soft. Clean.

I watch as God’s people casually pour into the room, into fellowship with one another, and then into worship of the King.

“Yahweh, Yahweh, we love to shout Your Name O’Lord!”

We’re singing and shouting as our hearts break wide open, spilling onto our cheeks. And I’m reflecting on that passage in Matthew:

‘Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:

“Hosanna to the Son of David!
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Hosanna in the highest!”’

I begin seeing myself in that scene. I see these people there. We’re throwing our cloaks before him, shouting and praising because if we don’t, the rocks themselves would cry out.

And I wonder- how many of us lift His Name in adoration and praise, only to turn in rejection just as they did on that Day? And how does He receive it all? What was that Day like for the God-Man Jesus who committed Himself to no one because He knew the hearts of all? The One who knew every one of them would forsake Him, who knew Judas would betray Him into the hands of wicked men, yet washed feet despite their sin.

He knew the ones singing, “Hosannah!” would soon be shouting “Crucify Him!”

“But Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.”

We continue in this rhythm of worship and again I’m reminded of that love. That gracious gift no man can earn and no man deserves. I’m reminded that He gave His life for me while I was a sinner, not waiting for me to repent or get myself together.

His love never fails. He didn’t give up on men even as they spit in His blood splattered face demanding His death, shouting that He take Himself down from that cross. Even then He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

This God-Man who wrapped Himself in flesh and submitted Himself to those created by His own hands. The one who calms a storm with a word and conquered the last enemy- death itself. The One demonstrating His love for us in the gruesome act of giving life through dying.

He rode in on a colt.

This is Palm Sunday. This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.

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When The Effort Outweighs The Error

Fasting copy

It’s 3:00 in the afternoon as we merge onto I5 headed home from a long day at school. My girl had burst into my classroom showcasing a proud smile and a perfect grade on her recent History test. It’s moments like these- seeing her joy over a school assignment- that  give me butterflies. I used to think only cute boys gave girls butterflies. I never imagined babies grown into high-schoolers could make a mom feel so undone. It’s not the perfect score that pleases me in this moment. It’s her perfect joy. She really does care about her work. She is putting in effort, reaping the benefits of her hard work, and she’s proud of it.

She decides the score deserves a stop for ice cream on the way home and I hesitate. I’m not quick to respond because I need to evaluate the situation. What message do I give her if we go for ice cream because she received a perfect grade? If she had tried just as hard and received a low A or even a C would I still take her out for ice cream? Would she even expect ice cream?

Does she understand how valuable her effort is? That red mark doesn’t always reflect the effort, but the effort- doesn’t it always reflect the heart?

As I’m weighing and contemplating something as simple as ice cream, she’s laughing and telling me all about myself. How she knew I wouldn’t go for it- why would I give her ice cream for something she should be doing anyway… or something like that. And I tell her that her reward for her hard work is the perfect grade. And that’s that.

Until I’m stopped in the hallway by my seventh grader, proudly displaying an almost perfect grade on his History report. He’s excited, she’s excited, and I’m throwing my hands in the air, defeated. Let’s go get ice-cream.

It’s early April here in Oregon, still cold according to my standards, but the sun is peeking off and on and we’ve counted less than nine full weeks until summer break. We are antsy for warm weather and this ice cream trip might make it all seem not so far away.

On the way we contemplate flavors and my son is hoping for cotton candy.  I can’t remember him ever not liking cotton candy. He orders gobs of it at the county fair each summer, buys it in little blue bags at the grocery story, and now he spots it among the dozen other frozen flavors.  He asks for two scoops and my girl spots one of her favorites, and mine- birthday cake. How do they do it? And who does it? Can I have that job- taste testing icy treats all day and deciding if they truly taste like a birthday cake? Would you really pay me to do that? As usual, I’m undecided, so I settle for a scoop of birthday cake and a scoop of salted caramel peanut.

Since my daughter hasn’t quite mastered driving and eating at the same time, I drive the rest of the way home and begin the merge onto I5. I’m halfway through my top scoop, the one that somehow tastes exactly like a birthday cake, when it hits me- what am I doing? I can’t remember what I said, but it was something like “oh no!” all dramatic like. The kids are arguing about discussing something, important and spiritual I’m sure, when they’re interrupted by my outcry. I’m not supposed to be eating this! I’m fasting today! All of a sudden my frozen treat, our tasty reward, has become the icy enemy. I’ve failed.

But then something happens and again my children are teaching me lessons. Lifting me out of defeat. Blowing encouragement into my deflated soul.

“It’s not like you did it on purpose, Mom. It’s not like God’s mad at you.”

 

“I know, but I’m mad at myself.”

As I’ve walked through the trials and hunger pangs of fasting and praying, I’ve learned much about myself. Ugly, selfish, frightening truths. And I’ve learned some things about God too.

He’s looking at my heart, which is made known by my effort. And those few successes and numerous failures don’t accurately reflect my heart’s desires. Ice cream is a eat-for-no-reason kind of food, but today it was a celebrate-and-rethink-fasting kind of treat.  It screamed- your abstaining from food isn’t what pleases me, rather your desire to sacrifice.

I’m teaching my children that the red letter doesn’t define them or reflect their hard work. I’m trying to show them their value is not in report cards and teacher comments. And I’m slowly learning along the way as well.

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 

WRITER {Five Minute Friday}

WRITER

Writer

What is a writer?

Someone who shares pictures and feelings,

Experiences and emotion.

She doesn’t just write words. Empty.

A writer paints without colors and brushes

She orchestrates without instruments or notes.

A writer captures words

She’s moved by sentences and paragraphs

She doesn’t just experience books, she reads book reviews and conversations and cereal boxes

She gets lost in the words of others

And she gets lost in the words she creates

She has a story to tell and sometimes she doesn’t know what that story is

Or who the story is for

Maybe it’s for herself.

Maybe it’s for the world.

Until she sits before that blank page and her fingers hit those solid keys

And she slowly disappears.

She gets lost in her thoughts

And her thoughts are discovered

Somehow they unravel.

Somehow they release themselves, releasing her

Releasing a message she didn’t know was there.

And she can breathe.

/ / / / / / / / / /

Five Minute Fridays with Lisa-Jo Baker, author of Surprised by Motherhood

Five Minute Fridays with Lisa-Jo Baker, author of Surprised by Motherhood

Linking up with Lisa-Jo and writing with a group of writers on this week’s prompt- WRITER (of course). Will you join us?