The lesson of Palm Sunday

She pressed a cross made from her palm branch into my hand before we parted ways. Her fingers had been folding, creasing, twisting as we spoke. It’s been almost a year, I remember thinking. She’s never wanted to talk before. How could I possibly have known everything she’s been going through?

And I got to thinking about this Palm Sunday, when the crowds gathered in expectation of a warrior king seated upon a mighty steed. They got a rabbi from Galilee on a donkey instead — him, and his rag-tag group of followers: unemployed fishermen. A despised tax collector. Women of questionable (at best) reputation.

And I wonder how often we might miss God because She comes to us in ways that we’re not expecting? How often do we overlook the divine because it doesn’t look like what we’re used to?

Maybe that’s the whole point that rabbi on the donkey was trying to make. God likes to show us that things are not always what they seem. He reminds us over and over and over again that he’s not here to keep the status quo, that he’s unconcerned with peace-keeping but, instead, peace-making, that the empire was never meant to free us — which is exactly why he upends it.

Maybe freedom comes in disguise, in subtle ways we aren’t always accustomed to looking for.

But freedom comes nonetheless — for all of us, yes, but for the poor, oppressed, and marginalized first.

And that can be uncomfortable for those of us with privilege to acknowledge. Because we’re not always good at laying down what we have so the last can be first.

But as Jesus reminds us — even if we choose to turn our backs, shut our eyes, stop up our ears, the stones themselves would cry out in this liberation song. Because freedom is coming. And it’s inviting us along.