April 8, 2019
Ride on, ride on in majesty!
Hear all the tribes hosanna cry;
O Savior meek, your road pursue,
with palms and scattered garments strewed.
Ride on, ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die.
O Christ, your triumphs now begin
o'er captive death and conquered sin.
[Evangelical Lutheran Worship #346]zd
The readings for Sunday, April 14, 2019, the Sunday of the Passion/Palm Sunday, are as follows:
Several months ago I presided at the ordination of Pastor Thomas Kratzer. The preacher for the service was The Most Rev. John Michael Botean, Bishop of the Romanian Catholic Diocese of Canton.
Although the gospel reading didn't pertain to Palm Sunday, he marvelously crafted into the sermon a story about Palm Sunday from the perspective of the donkey. It was so memorable I made a mental note to re-tell it at a more appropriate time. So here is my brief tale, with apologies for whatever liberties I have taken with the story.
According to Luke's gospel for the Palm procession this coming Sunday [Luke 19:28-40], Jesus sends two disciples ahead to borrow a donkey so he could ride it into Jerusalem. This donkey most likely had no idea why he was in such demand. He was, after all, a donkey, not known for its intelligence.
Jesus sat on the donkey's back and, as they rode into Jerusalem, people lined up along both sides of the road. Some of them lay their coats down in the road and the donkey walked over them. Others cheered and waved palm branches back and forth. Some of them even bowed low to the ground as he passed by. Singing, shouting and rejoicing filled the air around him. Though he didn't understand all the words, the donkey thought this was pretty special, that all the people would be cheering him and shouting things like, "Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
The donkey thought to himself, "I must be the most important donkey in the city. Heck, I am possibly the most important donkey in the whole world!" And so he held his head high as he marched strongly and bravely into the city carrying Jesus on his back. It was the proudest moment in the donkey's life.
But how quickly things changed.
The story goes that when the donkey rode back into the city the next day, no one even noticed him. No one waved any palm branches. No one put any coats on the ground. The donkey was hurt, puzzled, confused. What the donkey failed to realize was that what made him so popular, what made him so praiseworthy, what made him so special, wasn't him at all, but rather, the guy on his back.
The story serves as a metaphor for our faith. We often forget that without Jesus, we're nothing. Without Jesus, we're simply plain old donkeys (or whatever other term you prefer).
On a somewhat related note, G.K. Chesterton offers a reflection on Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem in this poem simply titled, "The Donkey." Note the final verse.
The Donkey
By G. K. Chesterton
When fishes flew and forests walked
   And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
   Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening cry
   And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
   On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
   Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
   I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
   One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
   And palms before my feet.
Whatever one may think of a donkey, it too is loved by Jesus. Whatever one's station in life, however menial our task, all is made honorable by the love of Jesus.
This Holy Week that begins with Palm/Passion Sunday is a good time to recall the great love of Jesus, in that while we were yet sinners, he died for us. This is a good time to humbly ask God for forgiveness for a lack of commitment to our Lord and to determine that nothing shall stand in the way to being more like Christ every day, to following Christ more closely in every action and relationship.
God so longs to be in relationship with us, as we are, and as God created us to be, that God is willing to go to extreme lengths to see that happen. This day and this week are about a new relationship with God made possible by his passion, death, and resurrection. This week serves as a powerful reminder of God's love for us.
Next  Tuesday, April 16 , rostered ministers of the Northeastern Ohio Synod are invited to gather at Trinity Lutheran Church in Kent, at 10:30 a.m. for our annual
Renewal of Vows liturgy in which we renew our vows of ordination, or consecration, and bless the oil which we'll use for anointing during the next year.
Pastor Doug Fidler, and the people of Trinity, Kent (600 S. Water St.) will welcome us with their gracious hospitality and offer us lunch following the service. Cost of lunch will be $5. Please contact the Trinity church office (330-673-5445 or by April 12, and let them know you plan to stay for lunch.
I would encourage your attendance at this important liturgy in which we renew our vows of ordination, or consecration, and bless the oil which we'll use for anointing during the next year. Holy week is a busy time for pastors and deacons, which is why a few hours in worship, and the moments of collegial fellowship that follow, are vital to the support and nurturing of your ministry.
This week and always, may the Lord's face shine upon you, and shelter you in God's steadfast love. [Psalm 31:16]
+Bishop Abraham Allende