Some years ago I worked for Grace Presbyterian Church, we had a preschool, Sand Hills Preschool, that was connected to the congregation. One year for science and nature the school adopted Caterpillars. This was a cool science project, rather boring, but cool. We ordered caterpillars from an educational science company, received care instructions and basically, watched, and watched, and watched, and waited.
In the last days of the caterpillar’s growth, which was the most exciting, you can see the rustle inside the cacoon as the caterpillar was growing and forming, trying to make its way out. Now when we see a living being struggle, our instinct is to want to help, want to ease its struggle, want to take away its pain, but here when the caterpillar struggles the most important thing we could do is sit still, wait and witness. If we are to touch the caterpillar too soon and try to bust it out of it cacoon, it wouldn’t be fully developed. Perhaps it would lack its wings, or even die, but if we carefully witness and observe the caterpillars struggle, a miraculous transformation takes place, the caterpillar is born again into a new life as a butterfly.
This process of waiting fills us with mixed emotion, both sorrow for the struggling caterpillar and joy for the celebration of new life in the butterfly. Imagine for a moment the first human to witness the transformation of a caterpillar into a glorious butterfly with its colorful wings. I wonder what their spirit said to their souls… sit, wait, witness.
Our Gospel tells us the story of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Jesus’ three years of ministry coming to the focal point of our faith. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for. This is the week we’ve prepared for. This is the center of our Salvation history.
I can remember when the box with the caterpillars arrived and all the young eyes looking inside the box with excitement, anticipation, and hope as their teacher gently guided them.
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
The people of Bethpage and the disciples were excited to see the Son of David, who was here to save them. Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest heaven! The very definition of Hosanna is to save or rescue. They march into Jerusalem proclaiming Jesus of Nazareth is here to save us.
Now this left the people of Jerusalem in turmoil, some not knowing who Jesus was, but had heard of the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee. What were they to believe?
This begins the struggle.
A caterpillar stays in their cacoon for anywhere between five to twenty-one days. You can imagine the great disappointment in our children when their expectations of the birthing of a glorious butterfly didn’t meet their imaginations.
Christ, humbles himself as a servant slave. He doesn’t very much look like a king who will save his people. He is betrayed by Judas and suffers great pain. He is persecuted and condemned to die. Imagine the disappointment, the sorrow felt by many. Imagine the pain of his mother and the disciples who believed in him, had faith in him, trusted him and walked with him.
We walk into Holy Week much like children, excited for its arrival. As Christians this is what we prepare for, the highlight of our liturgical year. As a priest there is no greater anticipation than to walk alongside a congregation through this unfolding story, to experience and learn through the rustling of our own cocoons as we journey with Jesus on his way to Calvary.
While we experience mixed feelings of joy and sorrow into every Holy Week as we affirm our faith and trust in Christ Jesus, it appears we do so, even more, this day. As our world has changed and the comfort of being in the presence of community has altered our experience of Holy week, it is never more important for us to be present in Holy Week. Waiting, witnessing, and utilizing this journey, during this time of lockdown to deepen our faith and trust in our Saviour Christ. This week, the holiest of holies is calling us to be enlightened by the Passion and Resurrection, calling us to be empowered by the Gospel and march forward carrying the knowledge and understanding of God’s deep abiding love for us with all our faults and frailties. We must be present to the call to journey forward holding with us the gift of compassion and forgiveness, for beloveds, each of our struggle in the birthing of our ressurected life will be different. By taking on the way of Christ, journeying with him aspire to be in His likeness and humbling ourselves to His service becoming vessels of His love and mercy. Jesus poured out His love for us by suffering death on the cross. He died for the good of all people from each end of the earth to the next.
Hosanna, save us, Hosanna, save us now!
No, Jesus didn’t appear as one would imagine a king. He appeared as a healer, a lover, a voice for the people, a sacrificial lamb. He humbled himself, and all this time later, still, we remember, we reflect, and we recall the hope, the light, and the life that transformed the world.
We may each struggle to birth forth from our cocoons, especially as we grieve what communal life once was, but remember beloveds, we are an Easter People, full of hope, eyes set on the light of the world given to all nations. The Risen Lord is before us.
Remember, reflect, be still, abide in your faith, journey along, and trust in the almighty healer of the world, our Saviour Christ Jesus.
May God’s good blessing, be upon you.
In Christ, Mo. Allison+