|Pen and Ink Reflections||
I want to talk this morning briefly about three things - about ‘green’ leaves; about fickleness and about donkeys...
‘Is your Church involved in a rally or political or symbolic action every week?’
One of my daughters asked me this, shortly after our Earthweb-led involvement in the recent ‘Sound the Alarm’ Green Faith events, followed shortly by the presence of some of us on the March4Justice and planning for today’s Palm Sunday Refugee rally. I had to be honest: ‘well’, I said, ‘pretty much every week we, or some of us at least, are involved in something.’
And why wouldn’t we be?
Today’s Gospel reading after all (Mark 11.1-10) is a reminder of what I would call the ‘prophetic performance art’ which reappears again and again in the Biblical stories. The so-called ‘entry into Jerusalem’ by Jesus is but one example of this - admittedly particularly significant. For it does not stand alone, nor was it originally intended to be simply repeated or venerated. Rather, in embodying Jesus’ own call to transformation, it seeks to inspire us to our own prophetic performance art. In this we are not exactly social influencers like today’s social media stars, but we are like divine influencers in reshaping our world. All of which can sound, or become, quite pretentious. So maybe a better, arguably more biblical, way of putting it is that we are called to become the wonky donkey…
It is Palm Sunday – the crowds are cheering and waving their palms in the air, and Jesus is riding along on the back of a donkey. Now a donkey is not a horse. It is not an animal that signifies power and authority – and though possibly the donkey in Shrek has done something to rehabilitate the donkey as a figure of wisdom, they are still often ridiculed. Victorious Roman generals rode into Jerusalem, through the other gate, on the backs of tall stallions telling the world of the power of Rome and its generals. Jesus by contrast chooses the humble donkey, beast of burden and the Biblical equivalent of a modern day ute.
The donkey was not glamorous, but my goodness it was useful. Have you ever wondered what the disciples would have done if the owner of the donkey had said ‘no’ to the request to share it? Their ‘yes’ was almost as important as the ‘yes’ of that other faithful disciple, Mary, without whom Jesus would not have been born. And why did they agree? - because they were told ‘the Lord needs it’.
‘the Lord needs it.’ That is a beautiful phrase and one that we should sit with this Holy Week. For we do not often consider that God needs us. We know very well of course that we need God. But God needs us too and cannot accomplish what needs to be done without our co-operation and that’s especially true in such a time of crisis as we now face.
I believe that every single one of us has our donkey – that thing, that possession, that talent, that set of connections, that nest egg of money, that calling that God needs. It is the thing that God has given uniquely to us and that God asks of us. It is our ‘donkey’. At some point – maybe at many points – God is going to say to us ‘I need that now.’ And we need to be ready to say to God, ‘Yes of course, here it is, do with it whatever you need.’
So, between now and Easter, let’s talk to God about our donkeys. Let’s ask God, “what’s my donkey? What’s the thing that I have, that you need? Show me how and when to offer it” And if we all do that God will be able to do all kinds of amazing things among us.
Penny Jones, for Palm Sunday, 5 April 2020
(photo by Daniel Fazio for Unsplash)