Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
The shouts from the crowd. The waving of palm branches. The dust being stirred up by the hooves of the donkey. It truly is a triumphal entry. Thus begins Palm Sunday as we look ahead to Holy Week and think about all that Jesus will face in the next few days. It begins with excitement and hopeful anticipation that quickly leads into a spiral of events turning toward anger, deception, betrayal, and even death. But for one day, at least, we celebrate Jesus. We celebrate that the king has come into town and we are overcome with joy in the hope that the Messiah has come at last. So on this Palm Sunday, how will we welcome Jesus into our hearts, our lives, our worship?
The people in Jerusalem were excited about the message Jesus was bringing. They felt that long awaited change was coming and their lives were about to be transformed. So in anticipation, they rejoiced, they welcomed, and they helped to pave the way for Jesus to come into town. They laid down their coats and cut down palm branches to make his path a little easier to tread.
What are we doing to make the path easier for Jesus today? What are we doing to follow the example he set before us, to share the good news, and to love one another? Last year on Palm Sunday, a few area churches collected new and gently used coats, jackets, and sweaters. They brought them in remembrance of the gospel where people laid down their cloaks for Jesus to help prepare his path. We brought them so they could be distributed by Portage Resale Shop Ministries for those in need of an extra layer of warmth.
Now it may seem silly, at the beginning of April when the weather usually reaches into the 60’s, to think about collecting coats. But why not? It’s a perfect chance to do some spring-cleaning and clear out those old coats you won’t be wearing anymore. It’s a great chance to find amazing sales on last year’s coats as stores are trying to turn over their winter inventory. And it’s a time of year when people who may not have proper shelter could really benefit from a raincoat, a light jacket or a sweater for chilly nights. So as we prepare for Jesus’ triumphal entry into our lives, let us show our joy and excitement by sharing God’s love for others.
This last winter Portage Resale Shop Ministries distributed over 1800 coats to people in need, bringing the total to over 40,000 since we began this project in 2008. So I invite you to join me this year, as we prepare our hearts for worship, as we prepare to follow Jesus through the emotional roller coaster of Holy Week, let us prepare our worship space by laying down coats in his honor. All items donated will be collected and distributed to those who need them most, and reflect the love of Christ that we can help share.
As we prepare our worship space for the entry of Christ, let us think also about how we greet those who come into our community and our church. Wouldn’t it be great if we greeted the stranger, the lost, the lonely, the homeless who walked into our churches with as much enthusiasm and excitement as the crowds once welcomed Jesus? After all, it was Jesus who said, just as you have done it for the least of these, you have done it for me. So why shouldn’t we greet everyone as if they were a king? Join me on Palm Sunday as we shout songs of loud Hosanna, as we prepare a path for our Lord, as we joyfully welcome all who enter for a time of worship, rejoicing, and love.