Yesterday was Palm Sunday. Someone in our community asked why we’re not calling it Donkey Sunday – we all laughed and then decided that maybe it captures the upside-down nature of what Jesus actually did on that day. I’m more convinced than ever that the nature of the journey, the way we’ve been called to walk in is a counter-journey. It chooses against power for weakness, against oppression for liberation, against hate for respect. It is a journey with a Leader that compels us to follow Him. Jesus is beautiful.
What struck me in the account of the donkey … is the willingness of the owner of the donkey to let it go on the one side and the vulnerability of God (I know this phrase will let a lot of friends feel some discomfort) in placing Himself in a position of need. Lectio divina on the Markan version of the text highlighted two phrases,
“The Lord needs it”
“They allowed them to take it”
During this Holy week I’m reminded that so much of what happened in this week was built on the foundation of God’s vulnerability and His inviting us to be a part of the story … even if it’s allowing some of our earthly possessions to be used as a prop in the ‘street theater’.
Comfort (2006:497) notes that Jesus’ request for the donkey,
… invokes a custom known as angaria (from angareuw ; cf. Matt 5:41; 27:32), in which a person of significance (most commonly an officer of the Roman government) could take possession of someone else’s property or require them to perform a task. Since Jesus was such a respected figure, this remark was sufficient for the disciples to secure the animal.
Comfort, P. W. 2005-c2006. Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 11 (497).
NT Wright asks,
"Are we ready to put our property at his disposal, to obey his orders even when they puzzle us? Are we ready to go out of our way to honour him, finding in our lives the equivalents of cloaks to spread on the road before him, and the branches to wave to make his coming into a real festival? Or have we so domesticated and trivialized our Christian commitment, our devotion to Jesus himself, that we look on him simply as someone to help us through the various things we want to do anyway, someone to provide us with comforting religious experiences?"
(Mark for Everyone, p. 148)
Yesterday we ended our Palm Sunday services and invited people to come and write on the Palms, among other things, which possessions they are ‘allowing God to take’. We serve the God who chooses a donkey!