I preached yesterday on Palm Sunday. It was interesting mulling over Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem while holding onto all the ‘being present’ stuff that I have been considering over the last few weeks.
A friend commented on my post via facebook, pointing out that being present is an act of vulnerability. If we really do want to build relationships and become friends with people, rather than just viewing them as pew fodder (that very thought makes me shiver!) then there is a vulnerability on both sides. There is risk, there is a real possibility of rejection. If we wish to be present with people then we have to be that …. present, available, willing …. and all that means we need to be willing to be close and vulnerable.
On Palm Sunday we see Jesus riding into town on a donkey. I shared in my sermon that at the other side of town at some stage Pilate would have been processing into Jerusalem too, but that his procession would be one of grandeur and pomp with the aim of instilling fear. Jesus, on the other hand, rides in an act of humble vulnerability. Pilate looks to control and intimidate. Jesus looks to be present with the people that he loves. Pilate is fully protected by a powerful army is sits aloft on his horse for all to see. Jesus has no protection, sits on a donkey and is swamped by the crowd. Pilate wants obedience. Jesus wants relationship.
Relationship means vulnerability and presence but sometimes I think the church has tried to act from a position of detached authority or believed she had some right to warrant respect without question, rather then be present in the mess of reality and genuine lives. That gives a massive challenge to contemplate for this Holy Week; how can we live out a humble vulnerability like that? Is it even possible?