Rector's Ramblings: March 28th 2021

 

 

Expectations. We all come to things with expectations. When I started doing more or less weekly Rector’s Ramblings a year ago, I didn’t expect to be doing them still.  There are times when we bring different expectations to the table and then we get at cross purposes, and have to do some untangling. For example, talking to those who want weddings and christenings this year, they have the expectation that come June 21st all be OK. Have as many people at anything as you wish – restrictions will be off. My expectation is that we will still be subject to the need to socially distance, sanitise and wear masks in public indoor spaces such as churches. That means I’m reluctant to be as definite as families would like.

     Expectations abounded that first Palm Sunday. Different expectations. The people of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus with enthusiasm, recognizing him as King, as the awaited Messiah, as the one who would finally accept their prayers, and set them free from the Romans. Jesus knew that nothing is so simple. We know now that He came to Jerusalem, not to be on the throne like David, but to be put to death.  Jesus knew his triumphal entry was to take up his throne, but the throne would be a cross. His failure to meet the expectations of the crowds and his followers meant they turned their disappointments to violence. They gave up on Him.

     Perhaps there is something here that Jesus would help us learn today.  Do we turn to God when there is something that harms us? Do we want Jesus to become the type of God who solves our problems: peace, work, the lives of children or parents, in short, help in the difficult situation in which we find ourselves? We wish that He would save us from the Coronavirus and restrictions on freedom, so that everything returns to the way we were before.

     Jesus does of course answer our prayers, regardless of the fact that our motives aren’t necessarily pure.  He came to seek and save the lost. However, at the same time, Jesus responds in His own way and not as we would wish all the time. Because Jesus will say “yes” to our deepest desires, He will have to say “no” to our immediate desires.

        The people of Jerusalem wanted a prophet, but this prophet will tell them that their city was under the imminent judgment of God. They wanted a Messiah, but this one will be enthroned on a cross. They wanted to be saved from evil and oppression, but Jesus will save them from evil in all its depth, not only from the evil of the Roman occupation and exploitation by the rich.

    The story of the triumphal entry to Jerusalem is a lesson in the tension between our expectations and what God is working to achieve. The crowd will be disappointed, because Jesus will not respond to their expectations of immediate salvation. Yet, something far deeper is being achieved by Jesus: his entry into Jerusalem is the moment when salvation is being born. The praises of “Hosanna” were justified, even if not for the reasons that the people had expected. Learning this lesson is taking a big step towards trusting God more deeply, when we don’t see our expectations met.

       Perhaps we too are disappointed, because our prayers are not listened to, our expectations remain unmet. It feels like God is not listening to us.  We want our life to change, here and now, not in vague future terms or in the hereafter. We want an almighty and strong God; we want to have faith in a God who gives us certainties and security. That reassures us in this sea of ​​fears and uncertainties in which we now find ourselves. However, the Christian faith is based on hope and love, not on certainty. He won’t solve all our problems, He won’t give us all the certainties that our human nature longs for, but He won’t leave us alone. We know He loves us.

  Let us therefore offer to him this Palm Sunday, and throughout the coming week, our desire to follow him and to bring to him the best we have; let’s ask him for the grace to see what we really need so that his will and ours may become more closely aligned. Let’s welcome him today as our Saviour and Lord and follow him on the way to the cross. Putting aside our own desires for quick solutions, let’s ask him to fill us with his love and hope. And for the patience to wait for His timing!