We live in tumultuous times. Our lives have changed beyond imagination; many have entered eternity sooner than we could ever have imagined.
The pandemic opened our eyes to injustice. The injustice to NHS workers, highlighted by the pay rise in Scotland, sits alongside the Black Lives Matter protests; and those relating to the murder of Sarah Everard and the right to protest.
Brexit gave fresh impetus to those seeking to loosen the links between the nations of the United Kingdom. Meanwhile across both the Channel and Irish Sea historic tensions bubble. These things are but a small taste of the tumult of every day life which far exceeds ours in so much of the world.
We can anticipate all of these things as part of our baptism. In our baptisms -
• we died to our old lives. Our most important birthday is the day of being born anew in Christ. And we journey not to death but too eternity
• our old lives were stripped, or washed, away. The world’s injustice is seen so that it can be torn down
As those baptised, there is also though the call to help bring in the new, for we are also clothed in new baptism garments, lives of goodness. This is what Jesus was doing on that first Palm Sunday.
Tumult in Jerusalem
When Jesus went into Jerusalem, tensions in the city had reached a critical point.
Around the time he entered the city by one gate on a donkey, Roman soldiers entered by another gate to keep the peace at the festival time, as they did every year. It was a clash of cultures and a sign of imperialism. Into this tumult Jesus goes to give his life, to bring peace.
You and I go every day into a world of tension and tumult. If you have work, for example, there may be tensions with colleagues and line-managers; there is the pressure of weariness, the struggle to get up in the morning. These are all moments when we "take up our cross" and follow Jesus. We choose to follow him just as he chose to enter Jerusalem; we choose to follow him into places of difficulty and sacrifice. Suffering leaves “a trace upon our souls” as it did on his. Your self-giving is transformative, as was Christ’s.
Jesus may have seemed powerless - what can one man with a donkey do, especially if most of his closest friends flee. But by entering into the tumult of Jerusalem and the suffering of the cross he transformed our understanding of suffering. He shows the power of a Godly peacemaking life as he reconciles heaven and earth. He reconciles Jew and Gentile despite the raical tension. His reconciling ministry flows down the years.
Entering Tumult Today
So as you go to work and into whatever it holds, remember that you are travelling alongside Jesus and he enters the tumult with you. Let the Palm Cross remind you of this. Do not be afraid. Your peaceful godly life has far more impact than you can ever imagine. This is true whether you will be shielding at home for a good while yet, or whether you are soon out and about. We can all play our part; especially we can all pray.
Faith and Hope are Protest Against Tumult
Do not underestimate the power you have. The Roman legions entered by one gate and Jesus by another – but I believe that if Jesus had not entered that gate we would not have the NHS today. Be bold for Christ, for he is bold for you. Faith is not an opium to keep us quiet; faith and hope are protest against tumult, quiet agents of God’s kingdom.