Can you feel it? Kurt Streeter of the NY Times notes, the “soulful, spiritual aspect of games have elevated them to something like a modern religious experience. The soulful, spiritual nature of what has become one of our greatest faiths – sports.”
Whether it is Messi in the World Cup, Lebron becoming the scoring champ (my heart aches as a Bulls fan), or Caitlyn Clark putting up eye-popping stats. What do Mach Madness, sports, the recent (horrific) shootings and Palm Sunday have to do with one another? There is fervor and clamor in the cities. The city of Jerusalem then and our cities now are longing for something much deeper than what is presently there.
When I was younger, I had a friend who looked up the nastiest flavored toothpaste he could find. He detached several Oreos and filled them with this toothpaste. He then squished the cookies back together, and after doing the dishes, he served his mom these adjusted cookies with some milk. Sly dawg. When his mom bit into the cookies she said, “uggh, how could they think that pickle flavored Oreo’s were a good idea!?”
My friend, in the other room, said “April Fools!” There’s just one for you all this year. I also share that, because on the first Palm Sunday, like this mom, the people thought Jesus was going to offer them something good, but what they felt was more like a April Fools moment. A profound disappointment. How so?
First, we have two triumphal entries, Caesar galloping on a white horse from the west. Jesus on a donkey riding in from the east. Two kingdoms divided on the ancient world’s Super Bowl: Passover week. Next, Jesus authorizes a donkey-jacking. In choosing a donkey, Jesus appeals to our longing for God to be accessible and approachable.
Essau McCaulley, professor at Wheaton college says: “This Holy Week, then, let’s follow the one who sits atop the donkey, so that He can remind us again of the way to life eternal.”
The people on the road sing out a guttural word, a praise word. Hosanna; save us, save us now! It’s evocative, urgent, and desperate. Under Roman oppression, this highlights the human longing for liberation. And did you catch it? The propensity to have it done on our terms. All this language is from Psalm 118. The finale of the Hallel songs. Psalm 113-118. The Hallel songs. I’m telling you this for the hallel of it…
Like Eugene Peterson says, we must find a way to cuss without cussing. That’s probably the closest I’ll get to it in this format, huh?
This is the moment where the people following Jesus did what psychologists call “projection”. It’s when we consciously or unconsciously place our expectations onto another. The crowd projected onto Jesus what they thought He should be and what they thought He would be.
This is the inflection point all of us must reckon with. What do we do when the saving we long for doesn’t come in the way we want it? Jesus unfulfilled their dreams to offer them something so much better. Not temporal alleviation, but an eternal renovation. As Max Lucado reflects:
“When our deepest desire is not the things of God, nor a favor from God, but God himself….we cross a threshold.”
Moving through our disappointments can uproot our limited perspective and enable us to live openheartedly to the greater good that God longs to give. So, if you’re facing the loss of a dream, dizzying disappointment, please hear me….there’s always a possibility for God to meet us in new ways previously….unimaginable. His liberation and renovation go as far back as your deepest wound, deeper than your disillusionment now, and as far as taking you every step of the way into eternity.
Maybe the disappointment you’re experiencing is God’s desire to get your attention? Maybe the agitation you and I feel at this point is not a cruel denial of the good, but a pathway to open us up to receive the greater good that God is after in our life? The so what, after Easter, is God’s desire to give us all a resurrection story of hope – today – that is deeper, fuller, and richer than we could have initially thought.
While growing up in Arlington Heights, IL, it wasn’t until the start of my senior year did I start to wonder if Jesus was worth considering. For me, it took the intellectual, communal, and personal components to come together to say – yes – to Him. I like to say He captured the restlessness of my soul and like a guitar restrung my heart with the cords of eternity and it hasn’t gone back since.
Shortly after coming to know Jesus as my greatest hope and reality, my father died. Since then, I’ve taken great comfort in Corrie Ten Boom’s words, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God, you’ll be at rest.”
Then, not long after that, a family member came out to me. For the first time this dimension of life – spirituality and sexuality – wasn’t an abstract concept, this was and is a person. After attending to them with grace and truth, an odd phenomenon kept happening to me, or has it been for something? Individuals would continually trust me with their questions, wounds, and curiosities about their sexuality. At this point, it’s climbed to 15+. From there, I’ve invested the better part of eight years being engaged with individuals and immersed in the dizzying array of literature on these areas of our personhood.
I’ve found Elizabeth Elliot’s words to have great bearing on our cultural moment: “Faith doesn’t eliminate questions, but faith knows where to take them.” Two prayers that have grounded and guided my life are: “I long to have faith and obedience like those I see in the Scriptures, and I long to preach the gospel to the nations.”
Those are my life’s aims. Among my love of books, reflection, and nurturing meaningful relationships, I enjoy good coffee, jazz music, golf, snowboarding, the movies, pizza (pepperoni), cooking, the mountains, and the beach as well as traveling.
I hold an MDiv from Denver Seminary, and I hope to gain more clarity on pursuing a PhD in the coming years.
I’m humbled and honored to join the WGA staff and contribute to the on-going space they are curating for every person, every story, and every beautiful and broken aspect of our human experience.
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