Dramatic week begins simply

We are about to enter the most dramatic part of the Christian year. The sequence of events marked by Holy Week and Easter are, I believe, the most dramatic.

Many will immediately argue about or for the glorious drama of the Christmas sequence, including traveling to Bethlehem, being turned away at the inn, the birth in the stable, the angels, the shepherds, the Magi, the flight into Egypt. However, something about the birth of the Christ Child seems quieter and simpler than the Holy Week/Easter sequence.

Throngs of people lined the streets of Jerusalem for the triumphal entry of Jesus. It was a humble procession because he rode on a donkey. People cheered and waved palms, as we know. Then we have the Last Supper with Jesus and the Twelve on Maundy Thursday, followed by the betrayal, arrest, judgment before Pilate, sentence of death, crucifixion and entombment. Again, lots of people.

Ironically, the resurrection on Easter morning was witnessed first by only one, Mary Magdalene, but that is another glorious sequence for another blog.

Children love the story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, not a majestic Clydesdale from the historic beer commercials on television, but a simple beast of burden. There is a sermon in itself: The King of Kings in triumphant procession on a simple donkey.

Children also love waving of palm branches. And children love pretending, re-enactments, plays, dressing up, playing different parts and all the trappings of drama. And I suppose I should qualify here by a confession: That’s children of all ages, including adults.

Even if some adults are not quite certain about whether or not we like gathering on the front steps to re-enact the triumphal entry on Palm/Passion Sunday (We might not get our regular seat in the pew; heaven forbid, you know.), walking these steps of Jesus in liturgical drama is good for us all.

Children of all ages will be gathered on the front steps of Church of the Holy Communion this Sunday to proclaim the Gospel, to bless palm branches and to process into the church just as Jesus processed into Jerusalem.

Our Liturgy of the Palms outside will begin with a precious anthem by our St. Cecilia Choir, one I have known for decades. “Little Grey Donkey” by Natalie Sleeth is a marvelous piece to teach young children about the triumphal entry of Jesus. The music is simple as well, making this anthem a most worthy marriage of text and tune.

Little grey donkey, little grey donkey, little grey donkey, Ho.
Do you know just who it is you carry on your back?
‘Tis no ordinary load, no mean or common pack.
You are blessed of all beasts to carry into town
Christ the Lord of Galilee; he wears no earthly crown.
 

Little grey donkey, little grey donkey, little grey donkey, Ho.
Once you were a simple beast of poor and lowly state.
Christ himself hath chosen you and honored is your fate.
Through your path with palms is spread, make haste along the way;
You were destined here to ride on this triumphal day.

Little grey donkey, little grey donkey, little grey donkey, Ho.
Yonder is a grassy hill; it’s known as Calvary.
Up against a cloudless sky a barren cross you see.
Little grey donkey, little grey mare, don’t hide your head in shame,
For you bear the Lamb of God, and Jesus is his name.

Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at 5:18 PM
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