Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Palm Sunday

I am a Patriot.  The Flag of the United States is flown on the appointed days at our house.  My respect for the men and women who serve in the United States military is certain.  I believe our nation is a blessed nation.  I also believe that the pride that straightens my back at the sound of our National Anthem is not particular to me or citizens of the United States of America.  The primary reason I am a patriot is because I firmly believe in the ideals of a Democratic Republic.  It is, in my estimation, the best form of government thus far.  I am, I would propose, a citizen of two kingdoms, the United States and the Kingdom of God.  Thankfully, as an adherent to the principles of a Democratic Republic, I can maintain my loyalty to my understanding of God’s law while working for change in the halls of human government. The only form of government I would submit to beyond the country of my birth is the benevolent monarchy of Christ when he comes to establish a Kingdom of true peace and justice.  I am, however, very uncomfortable, when we wrap the Bible with an American flag. I get nervous when people equate God’s will with the proposed will of the United States.  The symbols of my patriotism are subservient to the symbols of Christ.  My Scriptural proofs will be the focus of this Sunday’s celebration.  For a moment in time, we will reenact a patriotic celebration specific to the City of David, Jerusalem.  We will wave the symbols of Davidic pride and sovereignty as we welcome Christ into the ancient city of Jerusalem. 
Palm Sunday is, at its core, a blatant example of a gross misunderstanding of Christ’s sovereignty apart from any human constructs.  The centuries that have gone by have allowed the symbols of patriotic pride of an ancient nation to be forgotten.  As in modern times, ancient cities and nations had symbols that were used to express devotion and commitment to that indescribable sentiment of patriotic pride.  The Palm branch was the political symbol of Jerusalem. It was and remains a prominent symbol on that city’s crest.  It was their American flag, their bald eagle, that told the world that although the Empire of Rome may rule by force, their loyalty was to the ancient city of Davidic authority.  It was a patriotic parade that was being thrown for this itinerant preacher riding on a donkey into the city.  Their memories of a similar parade were being recreated that day in Jerusalem.  The stories of King David and King Solomon were being reenacted, for they too rode through Jerusalem on a donkey as a sign of their monarchal authority.  The Palm branches are not just a sign of our welcoming Christ, but a symbol that reminds us that Christ did not come to establish a temporal realm.  The Palms function as a warning.  They are a sign of our human propensity to force the reign of God into but one facet of our lives. Christ is not only a giver of good gifts when we so desire.  Christ is not allied with but one nation. Christ does not baptize the will of one people or lift one nation over another. Christ promises a New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2).  And who is this New Jerusalem?  It is none other than the bride of Christ (Revelation 21:9).  And who is this bride? The Church of Jesus Christ (John 3:28-29, 2 Cor. 11:2, Eph. 5:25-27, 31-21).  It is this reason that the Palms are burned the following year for Ash Wednesday and become the mark of our sin of rebellion on our foreheads.  As we become spectators of this ancient patriotic rally this Sunday, consider in your own hearts and minds: to whom is your loyalty given?  Are you looking for your vision of Christ? Or, are you willing to become Christ’s vision of a loyal disciple?

No comments: