It’s Palm Sunday, the start of the Christian Holy Week. Whilst, if I have to label my religious affiliation, I’ll usual say ‘spiritual’ and explain that I value the deep experiences available from many faiths, here in Bristol I’ve been welcomed by and appreciate the community of my local church: St. Paul’s in Clifton.
Today our service included a procession from one church in the benefice (parishes that share a priest) to another. Chanting Taizé songs we, a goodly congregation, progressed: stopping at traffic lights and struggling to hear our song above some workmen digging up the street.
Later we participated in a reading of the Easter story. How, on the original Palm Sunday, Jesus was greeted by adoring crowds, as he entered Jerusalem in triumph. It was a glorious moment when, not only his loyal followers, but the general population recognised Jesus as a savior and wanted to applaud and honour him.
By the following Friday the same crowd was baying for Jesus to be crucified.
This was the first time I’d really appreciated the role of the masses in the Easter story. Pontius Pilot wanted to release him, even Herod was happy for him to go free. It was the crowd, the fickle crowd, that sent him to his death.
Why did the drivers of some vehicles seeing an orderly procession through the streets of Bristol insist on their right of way, rather than allowing us to cross the road in front of them?
As an individual we can choose to be open to unusual things happening before us and to embrace them . . . or we can cling to that with which we are familiar and allow fear and a closed-mind to dictate our actions.
We can choose compassion and hope . . . or to deny within us the very essence of what makes us human beings.