March 20, 2016

Palm Sunday 2016

Series: ,
Passage: Zecharaiah 9:9
Service Type:

Last week a group of parishioners met following the liturgy to review the many details involved in keeping Holy Week at St George’s. The conversation eventually turned to Tabitha the donkey, whose appearance after a hiatus last year was a source of genuine excitement and also a little confusion. When I, for example, in a moment of absent-mindedness expressed some concern that she might have a hard time navigating the stairs to Brunswick Street, I was quickly reminded that as a rule Tabitha is not allowed inside the church and so has no trouble getting out of it. We then discussed where Tabitha belonged in the procession and all more or less agreed that she should be somewhere near the front. When Craig Savoury mentioned that she belonged with the sanctuary party we could all tell what Garth MacPhee was thinking – that being led by a donkey on Palm Sunday was perhaps not so different from the leadership most Sundays of the year... . Whatever the case, Tabitha was back. And the procession just this morning was able to gather around her just as the crowds on the first Palm Sunday gathered around Christ, seated on a donkey.

The donkey matters immensely in the story of Palm Sunday, though it is easy to think that she is purely ornamental. In the first instance, our Lord’s arrival in Jerusalem on a donkey on the first Palm Sunday 2000 years ago was an affirmation of the messianic signs foretold in the Old Testament. When the Messiah comes, the prophets had written, he will come seated on a donkey. And so Zechariah writes: “Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey... .” (9:9)...

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