April 5, 2020
Loving God, we thank you for the gift of your Word and as we ponder it, open our hearts and our minds to hear you. Amen.
If you worshiped with us last week, you may remember that I spoke about all the different emotions that have bubbled up for me, and for all of us, I imagine, during this time of quarantine—this new way of living. And being attentive to my own range of emotions during this time, has led me to wonder about the emotions of Jesus and his disciples during the anxious days that they were living in. To think of the span of what they all must have been feeling in those last days together.
As Jesus entered Jerusalem on that donkey, adoration from the crowds likely overwhelmed him and his disciples. They were cheering hosanna, which meant save us. Palms were waved. Cloaks were laid down. The crowd welcomed him like a king. Even though he had no credentials—no title, no official standing, no authorization. Who was he some asked… Just a prophet from Nazareth was the answer.
So Holy Week begins with exaltation and joy. And next Sunday, on Easter, the emotions will be similar, but even more amplified. But we have a long walk between Palm Sunday and the Resurrection.
Because we know that the sacred procession of Palm Sunday becomes the violent mob of Good Friday. In just a few short days, those now praising Jesus, even those who loved him most, will fade into the crowds that turn violent and call for his crucifixion.
In this triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus is coming to the end of his long pilgrimage. A pilgrimage marked by the many miles traveled throughout Galilee and beyond. Marked by the thousands of people he healed and fed and loved. Marked by prayer and discernment to follow where God called him. Marked by courage when he realized that he was, in fact, being called to death.
This was a holy path. And at different times of our lives, we all make pilgrimages—moving, as I read this week, “with mindfulness across a landscape that transforms us along the way.” Those are the words of Jan Richardson an artist, author and minister who writes beautifully about finding ourselves and our way in the pilgrimage of Jesus.
What pilgrimages are we making even now, moving “with mindfulness across a landscape that transforms us along the way?”
My husband and I were to leave for Scotland in a little over a week to walk about 80 miles of the Great Glen Way. Obviously, we will not be going now, at least not next week. And in light of all of the sacrifices that people around us are making during this pandemic, in knowing that people are risking their lives and that many will lose their lives, the loss of our trip is such a small thing to lose. We know this.
But walking the Great Glen Way was intended to be a sort of pilgrimage —an openness to being changed, as we moved with mindfulness across a landscape unknown to us, on a path made sacred by all who have traveled it before. A time to set aside the busyness of our normal life and simply attend to traveling the path, making our way from town to town, stopping only to take care of our needs of eating and sleeping.
But even in my regret at losing that particular opportunity for pilgrimage, I know all is not lost. I read something in one of Jan Richardson’s reflections that has allowed me to see that all pilgrimages do not move through physical space. Pilgrimages can be just as powerful when they are internal.
And so, during this time when our physical movements may be limited, why not commit ourselves to spiritually walking those “interior pathways we have not explored before.” Why not search for the road that draws us closer to God and closer to knowledge of ourselves? We don’t have to go far to do that. Laura Swan, writing about the forgotten desert mothers, spoke to those interior pilgrimages when she wrote, “The desert journey is one inch long and many miles deep.”
What desert journey might be beckoning to us in these days? Perhaps an intentional walk through Holy Week is a good starting place. You might even want to set aside a sacred space in your home for this interior pilgrimage. Because if your home is anything like mine, it is certainly not quiet right now. And interior pilgrimages require quiet and stillness—dedicated, if brief, moments to shut out the rest of the world and to simply listen for the voice of God.
Even as we follow Jesus on the move this week—from the streets of Jerusalem into the Temple, from the Upper Room to the Garden, from the Garden back to Jerusalem, and then on to Golgotha and the tomb. Even as we walk those paths with him, we are called to be still. To “be still and know” as the Psalmist reminds us.
We take time to move through the days of Jesus’ suffering and death because we believe they had a purpose—the salvation of the world. How will that story speak to us this week? How will we let it stretch us to grow more fully into our relationship with Christ?
During these next few days, may you discover the road you need to travel to meet Christ who comes toward you with open arms. May we all welcome him with shouts of Hosanna—save us, and proclamations of blessing the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
And may we hear with open hearts, this Blessing written by Jan Richardson…
Blessed is the One
Blessed is the One who comes to us by the way of love poured out with abandon.
Blessed is the One who walks toward us by the way of grace that holds us fast.
Blessed is the One who calls us to follow in the way of blessing, in the path of joy.
May your pilgrimage this week be filled with grace and love. Amen.