Making a Spectacle of Ourselves

Palm Sunday

Mark 11:1-11

Hosanna!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David;
Hosanna in the highest!”

In the early days of COVID quarantine during Lent 2020, we at Englewood Christian Church in Indianapolis were struggling to imagine, or better said, RE-imagine, how we could celebrate Palm Sunday with so many restrictions. Palm Sunday was the first big holiday that came our way in March. During a midweek evening Zoom gathering, the focus was not on what we had lost, but on what could be done during a strict lockdown. We brainstormed and joked a while before someone suggested a car parade. It was an idea with a slow burn, but the idea slowly took hold in our minds.

What had been a heavy moment shifted rapidly; we laughed with delight as the ideas quickly spilled out of us. With only a few days of planning, on Palm Sunday morning, a large bunch of us in about forty cars met in the church parking lot. We placed a few of our brave young guys in the middle of key intersections to hold oncoming traffic, and then we slowly traveled the streets of our neighborhood honking our horns, shouting the good news. Some of our neighbors came out to cheer and to thank us, some with tears streaming. More than a few drivers flipped us off and yelled at us. Some neighbors stood on their porches in shock at the spectacle we were creating. 

The parade got us on the local news, but more importantly our neighbors and our own children saw us rejoicing together with decorated cars, waving recycled Christmas tree branches out our car windows, streamers, balloons, joyful music, honking horns, and smiling faces in the midst of a global pandemic. One of our members captured aerial footage from his drone camera as another led the way on his bicycle wearing a donkey hat. It was completely weird, seriously wonderful and wow, did we need it. 

As I drove my car, waved my Christmas tree branch, sang along with the music, and shouted hello to friends, neighbors and strangers, I wondered if we were getting a real taste of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. We were conspicuous; we were jubilant; we were proclaiming the coming of the Lord and of the Kingdom. Many rejoiced with us, but not everyone was delighted to see us. 

Jesus’ disruptive entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday proclaims the in-breaking Kingdom and makes a big claim: a change is coming. This change is good news to the captives and to the poor. It is understood as a direct threat by the powers and principalities. We are living in the productive tension of the time between the times, the here and the not yet. Living in this liminal space means we are responsible for making a bit of a spectacle in Jesus’ honor in my estimation. You might be short on donkeys just now, but don’t let that prevent you from shouting some good news to your neighbors, from cutting your Christmas tree into substitute palm branches, or from smiling warmly at the powers and principalities who do not yet understand that the coming Kingdom is also really, really good news for them, too. Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest! 

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