In just a few days we will be joined by most of downtown Madison's Sunday morning crowd as we follow a cross, a piper and a donkey from the Cultural Center down Main St. over to Academy to arrive at our church. The Procession -- some of our friends call it "the donkey walk" -- is counted on by many to properly stage the varied entrances each of our other denominational kindred will make in their particular Easter celebrations.
Some years the crowd has numbered more than 400. This year we'll return to Advent's churchyard for The Liturgy of the Palms and a recollection of the entry made by Jesus into Jerusalem. We'll pray together and then send our friends back to their respective houses. We will turn ourselves toward the next distinctive moment in the drama that is the Sunday of the Passion of our Lord.
A collection of readers will take turns as their parts require and help us to hear the story that moves rather poignantly into the days immediately after Jesus' triumphant "donkey walk." Mark's gospel relies on a familiar cast of disciple and soldier, priest and governor, bystander and passer-by. Included in the voices are ours as all those attending worship are expected to repeat the horrible command "Crucify him!"
The crowd is not just a mob remembered from that first century lynching but it is each and everyone of us as we admit our complicity. We are expected to "play the part" because it's true. By our lives of "things done and left undone" we are just as much the ones who require a sacrifice. Our sin cannot be undone by simply observing the drama that unfolded over 2000 years ago.
In every way we can, we must confess and name ourselves as members of the mob who leveraged the collusion between Rome and Jerusalem. Every time we enjoy a privilege of class or color, every time we scurry under the wings of secular powers, -- heck, the church is not exempt -- every time we act out of selfishness and fear we are joined to that horrific chorus.
But we must go there because Good Friday makes no sense without our confession. And so the narrative continues and we are there mocking Him and finding out too late what we have joined.
You could ask that obvious question, weren't we just outside, singing "Hosanna in the highest"? Yes, we were. And that was necessary as well. The tragedy of His dying is just as much or more caught up in our duplicity, our contradiction, the abject hypocrisy of which we are all guilty.
Palm Sunday ends on GOOD Friday. And we call it good because we are the broken ones, we are the hypocrites, we are the mob. And he is good. Good enough to be our king, to lead us triumphantly, to see to the repair of all our broken-ness, the exposure of all our hypocrisy, the undoing of all our sin.
The drama we join and annually enact goes all the way to his breathing his last breath. Goes all the way to a silence that informs all our prayers uttered with and without words. Goes all the way to Good Friday.