And so it begins

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, and it was different. Perhaps years later we will talk about it, beginning our dialog with “Remember the year we couldn’t attend church on Palm Sunday? Remember that virus that kept us sheltered inside, distanced from everyone?”

The story is familiar to me, having heard it since I was a tot in Sunday school.  The flannel graph figure of Jesus sitting on a donkey moves through the streets of Jerusalem while people wave palm branches and lay down their outer clothes.  They shout “Hosanna” and “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” He accepts their praise, even welcomes it and says the rocks will cry out if the people are silenced.

It is His day.

In their final chapters, all four Gospel writers narrow their lenses on the last days of Jesus’ earthly life. The week is full of activity.  Each writer has his own slant, his own perspective. The details and consistency shout for us to sit up and pay attention.

But why is the Sunday of palm waving important, other than that it fulfills one more prophecy about Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah?.  Zechariah said the king would come riding on a donkey.  He would be righteous, victorious and humble.  Jesus was all of that.

There is something else.

Hundreds of years before, Moses instructed the people to take a lamb in preparation for their Passover celebration. On the tenth day of the first month of a new year. Set it apart. Examine it for imperfections. Keep it until the fourteenth day. Then kill it. It is the Passover lamb.

Jesus made His grand entrance into Jerusalem on the tenth day of the month.  He was chosen for this. He was about to set the people free and make all things new for those who believed.  And so on Palm Sunday, He was proclaimed, examined for imperfections, presented to the people on the tenth day as the sacrificial Lamb. And on the fourteenth day of the month, just days later, He was killed.

God’s Passover Lamb. The promise to Abraham fulfilled. “God will provide for Himself a lamb.” — Genesis 22:8

Jesus. He is the One we waited for. Give Him praise. Shout Hosanna.

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

The prayer

I do enjoy the re-reading of a good book. This morning, it is the account in Luke of a couple of old folks with whom I can identify. The words are anciently familiar, yet they are fresh like a sip of pure spring water on a parched tongue.


I opened the Book to the story of Zachariah, the aged priest, who just so happened to be chosen on this particular day for a special assignment. He entered the Holy Place of the temple to offer incense on an altar that represented prayer and petition to God. The people were praying outside while the priest prayed inside.

As he offered up prayers, the smokey fragrance of incense encircling him, I wonder if Zacharia thought of that one prayer he had prayed again and again through his many years? That one prayer for blessing, for a child, a son from his loins?

Yet here he stood, an old man whose wife was equally well along in years, childless the two of them. Because Elizabeth was barren.

God’s timing for answering prayers are so often out of sync with what I envision.

The angel’s appearance was awesome, causing fear, but his announcement must have been confusing to Zachariah. “Your prayer has been heard.”

Which prayer was that? You mean the one I stopped praying years ago? The one I stopped expecting to be answered because I’m old now? The prayer that would have been on a timetable more suitable for me? That prayer?

Zachariah and I, we have things in common.

The prayers I am grappling with sometimes grip my heart with their urgency. I cry out to my Father, my eyes filling with tears, longing for an answer. And please, can it be today?

How many times have I read that God’s ways are not my ways, that His time is not my time? And yet, I want Him to do it according to my prescription and on my schedule.

Faithful Zachariah and Elizabeth had lived blameless lives, following the commands God gave to His people. Surely their prayers would have been answered. Undoubtedly their desire for a child would not have gone unheeded.

After so many years they must have become resigned. Head shakes and whispers behind their backs would have been hurtful. People can wonder when trouble beats us up and we are not being blessed in the conventional sort of way.

And yet, on this day in an old man’s life, the angel Gabriel, who stands in the presence of the Almighty, was on a mission to proclaim wonderful news to Zachariah. “Your prayer has been heard.”

Praying Hands Image
Praying Hands by Albrecht Dürer

God declares in His word that my requests, petitions, prayers are heard. He answers when He gets good and ready, in His own sweet time, because He alone knows when all the pieces are in place.

So, my fellow traveler, don’t let discouragement weigh you down. Don’t give in to doubt and unbelief. Throw off the lie that you are forgotten and forsaken. Keep believing God. Keep bowing the knee. Keep trusting in a faithful God who hears your every plea and preserves your tears in a bottle.

Believe that your prayer has been heard. In the fullness of time, and according to the perfect plan of God who does all things well, there will be an answer.

And it will be spectacular.

See the source image

Revised and reposted from December 2018

Tell me the story

Day 10 of 40 days to Resurrection Day

Today’s suggestion:

Read one or more of the Gospels over the next 40 days.

If you grew up hearing the stories, try to read them with fresh eyes and ears.

Flannel board


One of my earliest memories is me sitting in my mother’s lap and her telling me the story of Jesus before bedtime.  I recall being a fearful child, and when she began to recite the old, old story, somehow I was comforted and fell asleep.

Then there was Sunday School class where a kind old lady had flannel graph pictures.  Those colorful figures moved about as she told us children about Jesus’ love and his miraculous deeds.

Somewhere in the midst of all the story telling, I believed and learned to love Jesus.

That was a long, long time ago.

Last year several young women started coming once a month to our house early on a Saturday morning. We eat breakfast, drink coffee and hot cocoa and we study the gospel of Matthew together.  All of us have been Christians for a number of years.  Matthew is familiar to us, but we are trying to read it with a fresh perspective, as if for the first time.

Today was one of those Saturdays.  As we read about Jesus feeding more than 5,000 people with a few fish and loaves of bread and about Jesus walking on the water to meet the fearful disciples, we realized how relevant God’s Word is to us this very day.  In the twenty-first century.

Though the Bible contains ancient words, it is current, living and active.  It still changes people.  If we will just give it a chance, it will become nourishment to our hungry souls.

And we are hungry.  We are trying desperately to satisfy our longings with so much accumulate stuff. We buy more than we need then store the excess at an off-site unit or sell it at a yard sale next summer.

We have food issues and addictive behaviors.  We are busy, busy, busy.  We lust for a different lifestyle, a different house, a different spouse.

We have a lot of this world’s goods, and yet we are still hungry.

Perhaps what we hunger for is something real and lasting, something that is true and honest, something that has stood the test of time and has been found genuine.

My life has been changed because of the gospel message, the one that tells me how much I am loved by God and His Son, Jesus.

It is the story than has never grown old or outdated.  It wears as well today as it did when I was just a little girl.

I’ve seen people live by it.  I’ve watched people die by it.

There is nothing else in this world that is strong and sturdy enough for me to base my very life upon.

The gospel is the good news of God, His love, His provision, His plan.  It is worth looking into.  Again.  And again.