A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” Matthew 21:8-11
I love a parade; the colorful floats, the bands and performances all add to the excitement. I have taken my own children and grandchildren to parades over the years. I realize now, they experienced it through different eyes. Their high points were the huge balloon floats, the furry characters, the candy thrown into the crowds and the animals. Whether the animals were dogs, horses, or donkeys, it didn’t matter. They were not even impressed if there was a celebrity riding on the animal. Instead, all the antics and messes that go with animals were the attractions that highlighted our conversations long after the parade ended.
This made me think about how I might respond if I had been present for that procession of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday. What if I was a part of the crowd saying “Hosanna, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Would I recognize the Savior? Would I come away from that experience knowing that I had just experienced the presence of the Living God? Or would I be more enamored, as the children, with waving of the palm branches, the excitement of the crowd and even the donkey?
I hope that I would have the awareness of the presence of my Savior and savor the experience of standing on Holy Ground. But this week, as I reread the stories of those who were there, I am not sure that I would have been aware of the sanctity of the moment. I may have responded more like my children and have been more distracted by the antics of the donkey than with the significance of the event. After all, there were many others there that day who were vulnerable to losing sight of Jesus. Judas betrayed Him, Peter denied Him, and many in the crowd turned on Him. What makes me think I would have been any different?
God surrounds me each day with His wonders and blessings- the beauties of nature, the security of shelter, the support of relationships, the empowerment of gifts and more. When I focus on Him, I recognize His presence and am filled with appreciation and excitement. Yet, amidst these wonders, I can become distracted with antics and messes around me as benign as busyness or technology. Ignoring them can be as challenging as the distractions of conflict, losses, negative messages, doubt, frustration or illnesses.
It is a fact, that Christ is a presence that parades into our lives every single day. He comes wanting to bless, support, carry, love and guide us in all we do. We only need to recognize, accept, love and follow Him. The trick is to not be distracted by the moods of the crowds or the antics of the donkey, for when our sights are off of the Savior, we are vulnerable to distraction, denial, betrayal, rejection and even complacency.
During these Holy Days, help me not fall victim to the parade of daily distractions. I pray I’ll recognize the blessings you bring into my life and remain steadfastly focused on You, Your Love, Your Sacrifice, and Your unfailing Grace. Amen
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