I could not help but consider the small, beautiful donkey who led the procession during Palm Sunday worship. The service where palm branches are waved, and the congregation senses the approaching events of the week to come. The humble, lowly donkey – being led into Jerusalem, a symbol of humility, yet kingship; a humble acceptance, yet a resolute commitment.
I could not help but wonder if we as church people understood the symbolism.
As Christians we find ourselves wanting the fanfare, the excitement and pomp of the liturgical seasons. And I must say, celebrating the liturgical seasons has taught me much about the Christian year. But there’s so much more. It should take us deeper into our understanding of the walk Jesus would make, the final teachings he would offer his listeners, the continued lack of understanding of his disciples.
But at some point, about mid-week, Jesus abruptly stops teaching and departs from the crowd. I personally think maybe he had had enough. Maybe he was tired of trying to show the people who He really was. Maybe he knew he had to save his strength for what was to come.
He had to get away.
David Packer says in his excellent Lenten devotional, A Journey To The Cross, “Christ withdrew to a different type of service: to answer the call of separateness. Alone with God, in the company of friends and disciples, He prepared for the trials that awaited Him. The balance of Christ’s life, of time alone with God as well as time with His followers gives us an example to follow. We need this in our lives. No one is able to become all that they should be in Christ without spending time in private devotion and prayer, communing with God privately.”
I love the above sentence, “ Alone with God, in the company of friends and disciples, He prepared for the trials that awaited Him.”
I know from limited experience the value of time away. Anyone who has gone on retreat knows the value of being still. Anyone who has had to remove themselves from daily life due to illness or death can find strength in stepping away. Anyone who has shared an intimate conversation over a cup of coffee knows the restoration in gives. Jesus’ example of removing himself to a quiet retreat with his closest is such a lesson for all of us today.
Here in the middle of the week, can you step away from the to-do list? Push the “pause” button and reflect on this week and the pain, and the passion, and the promise it holds for us. Call a relative or a friend and share your ideas, your failures, your hopes, your faith.
Worship God. Accept others.
I think it is what Jesus was doing in the middle of Holy Week.