We are close now. Just a few more days until we return to the city of Jerusalem. Every year, about this time, we turn our attention to the last and holiest week of Jesus' life spent within and just outside the walls of Jerusalem. The palms are green and ready. The crosses are shrouded in red, and our Lent takes a turn from the preparatory and penitential to the re-creative. We join in the mystery of the retelling of the story of Jesus and his disciples. We travel the palm-paved road to the city. We receive his commandment at the last supper. We hear the confusion and chaos of his betrayal. We see the scourge and the suffering that ends in his unjust death.
This turning towards Jerusalem allows me the chance to pray into those final earthly days of Jesus. This year, I imagine myself on the road with all of the other pilgrims. Herod's Temple calls us from around the known world from our Diaspora to the Holy City of Jerusalem. I imagine the dry dust-clouded roads filled with other pilgrims and pack animals; these are last pilgrimages and first pilgrimages. I imagine the hardships of what it must have been like to bring my family from Nineveh or even Babylon across the desert and through the wilderness to gather with Jews of every language and many different lands.
Did Jesus know that it would be his last journey to Jerusalem? The Gospels tell us that he did. And so, I imagine being in his band of disciples eager for the Passover and the liveliness of Jerusalem's teeming crowds. I imagine passing through the gates of ancient limestone with Jesus, purpose-driven but sad. Then as the collect reads, "...not up to joy, but first he suffered pain."
I invite you to join me in this holy journey to Jerusalem. The Palms and Passion of this coming Sunday, Maundy Thursday's commandment, Good Friday's suffering, Holy Saturday's silence-- each of them their particular re-creation of the dark prelude to Easter's radiant triumph.