A Reflection for Palm Sunday, by Carl Fosnaugh IV
“Boom Baby!!!” With that load outburst and a kick to the door, Emperor Cusco of Disney’s Emperor’s New Groove would triumphantly, rudely, arrogantly enter a room. Such an entry spoke his many faults. His thin bravado ill prepared him for the trials that laid ahead for him. Those challenges broke him, he confessed his sins, and was stronger for it.
Such was the same entry of the prophet Isaiah. God called and he started his life as a public prophet with am “I’m here, listen up idiots.” Indeed, with this sense of blind zeal Isaiah rushed out to proclaim God’s word and judgment and was ignored. Jeremiah too rushed out and was soundly laughed at. Their “Boom Baby!!!” fell flat.
Such was my entry into the seminary. My “Boom Baby!!!” didn’t so much fall flat but instead had me holding on to a reality (my ordination as a Lutheran pastor) that wasn’t meant to be. Like Isaiah and Jeremiah before, it took me a second time of listening and discerning and a lot less “Boom Baby!!!” to understand better what I am called to be and do.
Isaiah needed a second calling, cleansed by a coal from a heavenly pyre, burning his sins and the “Boom Baby!!!” from his lips. His ears needed filled with the angels’ “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Jeremiah needed his confidence restored and his purpose renewed. I needed my faith restored, and a new place (The Episcopal Church) to listen, discern, and grow.
Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem had plenty of fan fare but no “Boom Baby!!!” on his part. Jesus’ entry makes a great deal of sense if you have been listening to and following Jesus this Lent. He rode into town on a loaner mule instead of being astride a noble and majestic stead. People were shouting his praises but he remained silent.
This was a different kind of triumphant entry. First off in lacked the weak bravado that Isaiah, Jeremiah, and I brought to our entries. Secondly, it lacked all malicious intent. His enemy wasn’t Rome or its servant Pontius Pilate, anymore than any empire. His enemy wasn’t the misguided and desperate Sanhedrin or the well intentioned and disagreeable Pharisees. He set himself to wage war not on any people but Death itself.
His disciples, the Judeans, and the Galileans that sing out Hosannas had elected to follow Jesus but failed to listen to him. They expected a “Boom Baby!!!” They expected a Davidic warrior to expel Rome, fix the temple, and create an Israelite Empire. Instead, Jesus was determined to pursue a foolish course that led straight to a cross, a failure that outshines any failure on the part of Isaiah, Jeremiah, or myself. Hosanna to the Son of David. King of the Jews. Trial. Whip. March. Fall. March. Fall. March. Nail. Nail. Nail. Raised up. Dead.
But if you have been listening to his beloved Son, this isn’t the End. For truly he was the Son of God. And, again, it was death that was his enemy.