The days of Lent have moved on and in a few more days we will come to Palm Sunday. At some churches people will hear of Jesus’ “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem, and may see a few Palm branches, and some might receive crosses made from Palm branches. For the past several days those Palm crosses have fascinated me. I cannot get the image of the Palm cross out of my mind.
Let’s say one Sunday on the way into the church building you are handed this piece of plant that has been folded to shape of a cross. And then on your way out of the building you notice that people are leaving the Palm crosses in a basket. And maybe you know or maybe someone tells you that the Palms that were crosses today, will be burned and used as the ashes for the services next Ash Wednesday.
From branches to crosses to ashes.
What image do we take from Palm Sunday? The crowd waving Palm branches and shouting Hosanna? The palm leaves folded into crosses? Or the palm leaves reduced to ashes? Do we have to settle on one image?
When I take the three images together I am reminded that the Christian life is truly a journey. It may have starts and stops, right turns and left turns and maybe even at times some backtracking. But it is nevertheless a journey.
Part of the lyrics to “Circle of Life” (from The Lion King) keep coming to mind,
It’s the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life.
While not making any exaggerated theological claims for these lyrics, they do contain the recognition that life is a journey.
Where does that journey find you today? Is today characterized by Palm branches and shouts? Or a cross? Or ashes?
Does one image hold the key to understanding the others?
In which image does God’s voice speak to you the loudest?