Monday, March 29, 2010


Palm Sunday presents us with two very different stories in Jesus’ life: the triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the way of the cross. We see Jesus as the King and Messiah joining the people in triumph. For this journey, he has made careful, deliberate preparations. The crowds are welcoming the one who brings justice, cares for the poor, and heals the sick. He is the great teacher and man of authority they have waited for. This event foreshadows the triumph of the resurrection and points us toward the kingdom of heaven, and as we look beyond the event itself, we see the Kingdom of God, peace, perfection, and joy. This portrait of the King reflects the glory of God.

The second story gives us a different portrait of Jesus. He is a man who expresses doubt as he prays that God will “remove this cup.” At times he is alone, abandoned by friends, and betrayed. He is innocently condemned in a sham trial, stripped, mocked, crucified, and forsaken even by God. On Palm Sunday, this is where we are left. If we can look beyond this portrait also, we see the cross as the central saving act, a sacrifice of obedience, a giving of all for the salvation of all.

These two contrasting portraits capture an infinite moment in time, a great paradox. They point to each other and fulfill each other. There is an earthly kingdom and a heavenly kingdom. The cross leads and points to glory. We celebrate and we grieve. These two portraits tell us about who Jesus is and who we are. Perhaps we even see ourselves as a dim reflection of Christ, dying to self in order to be raised up.

If you have ever spent much time with people who are dying, you may have experienced them in a liminal place – a place of in-between, a threshold. We see Jesus in two liminal places, triumphal entry and the tomb. These are the liminal thresholds that move toward resurrection and new life.

We experience many thresholds in life, but I think the spiritual ones can be the most challenging. Thresholds can be difficult places to be, they are uncertain and unknown. In Jesus, we see the threshold of triumphal entry to death and then we are left in the tomb waiting for death to lead to resurrection. We can look at the tomb in two ways: as a place where we are bound up where it is cold and dark, or as a place of waiting, anticipation, and expectation. The tomb is a place that is still, and quiet. There is tension. It is a threshold. We are invited to that place this week.
Why be in this place? Perhaps we are to learn what keeps us there or holds us back. Perhaps we are to look for what is coming. The tomb can be a place that leads to healing, holiness, and wholeness, a going toward something and leaving behind of something. But one thing about thresholds is that we can’t stay in them. By definition it is a transitional place. If we simply stood in a threshold, it would become a place of frustration, lack of fulfillment, and eventually boredom. We could still see what we have left behind and it remains a part of us. We would see the potential for life but not yet experience that life. It would be an empty place. We might as well just do the work and move on.

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