A Meditation for the Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday, March 28, 2021
Where do we look for God? Everywhere!
Look up to the sun and moon, straying clouds and streaking comets. God is there.
Look down to the caverns below the earth, the chasms beneath the sea. God is there.
Look around to the coastlands, grasslands, timberlands, even wastelands. God is there.
Look into the depths of thought, the heighth of emotion, the breath of spirit, and the breadth of soul. God is there.
Look beyond the reach of reason, the sense of sight into the fathomless face of incomprehensible mystery. God is there.
In 19th century terms, God is immanent, in wholly connectedness in the created order and God is transcendent, in holy otherness over the created order. Centuries ago, the psalmist gave ancient voice to this idea:
O God, where can I go from Your spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there Your hand shall lead me,
and Your right hand shall hold me fast.
God is everywhere.
On Palm Sunday, with its inherently ironic depiction of Jesus’ triumphal procession into Jerusalem that continues, wending its way outside of the city to a Calvary hill of his defeat and death, God is there.
In Jesus, betrayed, bound, beaten, blooded, and broken. God is there.
In Jesus, captive, crowned with thorns, and crucified between criminals. God is there.
Yet honesty compels the confession that this runs counter to the longing of the human heart, which habitually looks for God in lofty, sovereign majesty.
When the Israelites, during the exodus, beheld God’s mighty power in the drowning defeat of their Egyptian pursuers, they, in one voice, joyously cried: “I will sing to the Lord, (who) has triumphed gloriously…God is my strength and my might, and has become my salvation.” Yet in the suffering of their wilderness wandering, the people, querulous and quarreling, questioned, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
When Peter, on the mountain, beheld Jesus’ transfigured glory, he, in reverent awe, cried, “Lord, it is good for us to be here!” However, earlier, shocked at Jesus’ prediction of his suffering and death, Peter protested, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.”
The human heart has a hard time dealing with a suffering God. Nevertheless, that is where Palm Sunday leads us to look for God, and, therefore, in the looking-glass, the mirror. In our own faces. In the suffering of our daily afflictions and tribulations…
Our passion, our suffering about past mistakes; the bitter memories of which seem to abide.
Our penitence, our sorrow about our characterological flaws, which no amount of work, therapeutic or spiritual, seems to cure.
Our pessimism about the possibility of healing those broken places in our relationships.
Our pathos about our aging or our care for our aging loved ones.
Our pain of unending grief at the death of a beloved one.
Our perplexity in the face of whatever reminds us sadly of our mortality.
At times, we may be critical, complaining loudly and at length to whomever will listen.
At times, we may be cynical, clinging ever more desperately to whatever has not been taken from us. Yet.
At times, we may reach that strange state of contentment, conceding what has been lost and concentrating on the moment at hand.
At these times, we experience our own Calvaries, taking up the crosses of our life’s afflictions and tribulations. At these, no less than at other times, God is there.
And, as God is everywhere, God is in everyone. Therefore, we look not only at our own faces, but also into the faces of others. All others.
The people who we like and love. The people who like and love us. The people who look – think, feel, and act – like us. God is there.
And – being reminded of Jesus’ critique of our all too easily constructed and comfortable reciprocity in relationships, “If you love those who love you…(or) do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?” – the people we don’t like or love. The people who don’t like or love us. The people who don’t look – think, feel, and act – like us. God is there.
And, perhaps especially, in the faces of those Jesus calls us to seek and to see him. The least and the last. All whose life’s riches and blessings cannot be counted in material measure, social standing, or political power. The hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned, who, although Christ has died, hang on countless present-day Calvary crosses of struggle and suffering.
And whenever we do the “heavy-lifting” of the crosses of affliction and tribulation, those reflected in the “looking glass” of our lives and those with whom we share and do not share likeness and love and especially with the least and the last, God is there.
For God, who, in Jesus’ cross-bearing procession to a Calvary hill of crucifixion and death, and who, therefore, knows everything about “heavy-lifting,” joins us. And this is the only God worthy of our trust.
© 2021 PRA
 Psalm 139.7-10
 Exodus 15.1b-2a
 Exodus 17.7b
 Matthew 17.4
 Matthew 16.22b
 Luke 6.32a, 33a
 Matthew 25.34-40.