Tuesday, April 07, 2009

from hero to villain

I've probably mentioned before that Palm Sunday, the way we do it in the Episcopal Church, has always been a sore spot with me. This might be because I was brought up in an assortment of Baptist-Congregational-Unitarian churches, where Jesus got the whole day to be the son of David, the hailed messiah. 

When I was little we marched around the entire block in the Baptist church, around the pews in the Congregational church; I can't remember if we marched at all in the Unitarian church, but the entire service was given over to hosannas and palm waving.

Not anymore. Now we re-enact a "Passion Narrative" (one of the Gospels) and it's actually called Passion Sunday. We speed through the hosannas and boom! it's time to crucify him. All inside of minutes. That's just wrong.

And yet... as our celebrant preached on Sunday, it mirrors life. It mirrors the mob mentality. I don't like mobs. Crowds either. They can turn on a dime for no apparent reason. And so, Jesus goes from hero to criminal in a matter of minutes. How easy this turning.

Our celebrant also examined the concept of of scapegoating... distancing ourselves from our own accountability for whatever may be wrong with the world. Yesterday I saw a news report about Obama telling the truth about the American mentality (he said we have sometimes been arrogant) and the news reporter jumped all over it. As Jesus was well aware, telling the truth is a dangerous endeavor.

But one thing she said struck me as especially important for me this year. That in the Passion narrative, especially this year's version from Mark, we are allowed to walk through all the experiences of humanity. The drama of the journey lets us (if we are willing) see ourselves in the story. Of course.

The parable of the prodigal son has always been like that for me... seeing myself in all those personalities (I always identify first with the older brother... no surprise there.) But never in the Passion narrative. We are all Judas, Peter, Pilate... at different times in different situations. It's a good reflection for Holy Week, I think.

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