faith in action

Crossing the threshold: Palm Sunday

Holy Week is a reminder that we are on a journey of crossings.

Church and Society’s board met recently in Berlin, Germany. My time there got me thinking about crossings.

The Berlin Wall prevented crossings. It was a physical wall between people and a metaphoric wall between ideologies.

We walked along the remains of the wall. It has experienced new life. Artists and activists have turned the broken wall into an outdoor museum and education center, crossing its history to its future, moving from life to death to new life.

Berlin has also become a new home for thousands of refugees. We walked around the city with refugees. We heard stories of their crossings. We heard about the challenges of leaving home and building new lives in a new culture. Life to death to new life.

Palm Sunday marks several crossings.

Biblically, Palm Sunday marks a crossing for Jesus’ ministry. As Jesus enters Jerusalem, he crosses from the country to the city, from the outsiders to the centers of power. He shifts the focus of his ministry from the pastoral to the prophetic. The choice to enter on a donkey crosses the symbols of power, we begin to move form Caesar as lord to Christ is lord.

Liturgically, Palm Sunday marks the crossing from the rest of Lent into the drama of Holy Week. Most of Lent is somber, but starting with Palm Sunday, we begin the Easter celebrations; we wave our branches and shout out, “Hosanna.” Children will dance in procession down the aisle in some churches. In the days to come, we will gather around tables as food sustains our bodies. We will sit at the foot of the cross. We will leap with joy at the empty tomb. Life to death to new life.

And, of course, there’s the cross of Good Friday. That cross marks the crossing from life into death and from death into resurrection. Life, death, new life: this is the heart of the Christian story.

As we weave our lives into the unfolding Christian story, God calls us to bring new life to a broken world. To transform symbols of oppression into symbols of new life. To break down walls that divide. To bring good news to the poor. To liberate the captive. To welcome the refugee. To heal the brokenhearted. To pursue peace. To address systemic injustice and suffering. To turn our swords into plowshares. To move from injustice to justice.

In baptism, we are buried with Christ and risen to new life in Christ. Holy Week is our yearly re-invitation to enter into this crossing, to experience life and death and resurrection, and to seek justice and pursue peace.