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Insistent Love

Insistent Love—Matthew 21: 1-11

 (April 5, 2020—Palm Sunday)

We’re all scared, by things we never imagined could make us fearful; touching the bananas in the grocery store, the neighbour coming your way on the narrow sidewalk you share, the mail, a trip to the drug store.  For some of us, the fear is entwined with livelihoods.  For some of us simply going to work is now an act of courage.  This week a nurse speaking to a Toronto Star columnist said, people perceive us to be heroes, but we’re just like everybody else.  We’re struggling to get through the day and worried about what’s to come.  I didn’t sign up to die on my job[1].  Behind every act of courage there is fear, otherwise courage wouldn’t be needed. 

The pandemic is our lens for just about everything these days.  So, it is these workers that come to mind as I consider the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.  I wonder about Jesus and his mindset.  He knows what is to come, he is no fool.  Jesus and his disciples — working class folks, poor people, women, social outcasts — are traveling around proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom. One where the sick are healed, the prisoners released, the oppressed set free and everyone has enough.  He knows this message is a direct challenge to the empire and to those of his Jewish siblings who uphold its structures and authority.  I wonder what goes through his heart and mind there in Bethpage, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, the political and religious heart of Israel.  I wonder what goes through his heart and mind before he sends for the donkey that will take him to the point of no return.  I wonder if he feels overwhelmed by the moment, if he feels completely inadequate.  I wonder if in that moment he remembers that he is a carpenter’s son from an out of the way hick town.  I wonder if he thinks who he is to parade into Jerusalem during Passover, the biggest event of the year.  Who is he to thumb his nose at Caesar and the Jewish establishment?  I wonder if he feels much the same as that nurse, struggling to get through the day, worried about what’s to come, thrust into the moment by circumstances from which he cannot turn.

Here is a truth that brings hope in the midst of empire, poverty and a pandemic—love insists on being.  Love insists on it’s manifestation in our lives, in our world.  The ones among us who transform fear into hope are those who allow themselves to become channels through which love flows—who allow love to take on their flesh.  Love insists on being, it simply waits for the willing.  Two thousand years ago that love manifests as it parades defiantly into the heart of Jerusalem.  There is so much joy.  When love emerges from under the smothering of fear and despair, there is hope, there is gratitude and there is joy.  Sometimes it’s just a slight smile, or a single tear.  But, sometimes it involves taking off your cloak and laying it on the ground or waving palms to proclaim that love is the true emperor.  Love insists on being, it simply waits for the willing who defy fear and open the door for hope.  Today love marches defiantly into the employee entrances of hospitals, care homes and grocery stores.  Today the cloaks and the palms are pots and pans, applause, singing, banners, flickering apartment building lights, sirens, tribute videos, honking horns.  Love insists on being and when it makes an appearance, the hope in our hearts flows outward in expressions of gratitude and joy.

Friends, I want to invite you to share via our chat feature where you have seen love manifesting itself, love insisting on being, love taking on flesh in the midst of this pandemic.  Perhaps you’ve seen it on the news, perhaps it’s a story you heard about someone else, perhaps it involves you.  I invite you to share them now, Heather and I will read them out.

[1] Bruce Arthur, “I didn’t Sign UP to Die On My Job”, Toronto Star, March 30 2020. Pg. A1