Sunday, March 25, 2018

A Palm Sunday Prayer

Today is Palm Sunday and I have been meditating on the significance of Christ's entry into Jerusalem. I have read that in eastern traditions, a king who rode into a city on a horse was declaring an act of war, or triumphantly claiming a defeated city which he had won through blood and battle. The donkey, in that same tradition, was meant to be the opposite. A king who enters a city on his donkey is declaring peace, not war.

On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey. He declared his intentions for peace. The people shouted Hosannas and psalms, waving palm leaves and celebrating Him. He did not ask his followers to wield weapons, and even when Peter raised a sword against a man at the betrayal a few days later, Christ healed the man before doing anything else.

Yesterday, I didn't carry palm leaves with me to the Capitol building, but in retrospect I wish I had. The victory of standing on those grounds with eight thousand other Utahans who just want peace for themselves, their children, their schools, and their educators aligns perfectly in my view with Christ's Gospel of peace.

You're unsure of my reading? How useful would the Atonement be, really, if the Savior were a fierce God of War? If he rode into Jerusalem that fateful Sunday wielding AR-15s and shooting up the Romans soldiers? What significance would we be able to pull from the fantastic story of His death and resurrection if He slaughtered them? I'm telling you: There would be none. It wouldn't be right. It wouldn't matter.

You may have the right to protect yourself, but Christ asked you to forget about what you want. How many times have we been reminded at church to forget about ourselves?

March 24, 2018 at the Capitol Building in Salt Lake City

I don't know how well the metaphor carries. I am certain some will find my reading outrageous and inaccurate, and you're free to think so. But I don't think Christ exists to make you feel good about your guns. He came to make us squirm and to force us to let go of so many things in favor of loving our enemies and rejecting the judgments we all make against each other. The comfort He gives comes only after we learn about the real, true power of love and real peace.

This Palm Sunday, with all this in mind, I pray for peace. Peace at home, at work, at school. Peace in our communities, peace for people of color. Peace at home and abroad. Peace of mind.

I don't just pray though. I ask for peace. I agitate for peace. I hope you will too.