Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Devotional by: Rev. John R. Tyson, Ph.D.
Meditating on the Scriptures associated “the triumphant entry,” the texts for the sixth Sunday of Lent, I realized that there were actually two “triumphant entries” in ancient Jerusalem that same week. The more conspicuous one originated at the sea-side fortress at Caesarea; marching six files wide, in cadence to the beat of a drum, a Roman legion entered through Sheep Gate and paraded to its billet in the Fortress Antonia, opposite the Jewish Temple. A less ostentatious parade begun in Bethany, where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, lived. It entered the Holy City from the south west, through the Valley Gate. At the head of the Roman legion strode the Aquilifer “the eagle bearer,” who lifted high the emblem of Imperial power and dominion — for all to see and fear. Behind him rode the Prefect of Judea, Pontius Pilate, astride his favority white war-horse. He wore a crimson cape over full battle armor, which glistened in the sun – despite the dust of the road; Pilate had come to Jerusalem “keep the peace.” At the head of the other column rode the peasant-rabbi from Nazareth upon the foal of a donkey, with his long legs nearly dragging on the ground. Instead of trumpet fanfare He was greeted by shouts of “Hosanna – blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” and a troop of well-wisher joyfully came behind him – flush with excitement from the raising of Lazarus.
These two parades marched to the sound of a different drummer. The one captain intened to maintain “the peace” by physical and emotional control; through fear, force, violence, and murder. The other, brought peace through the rhythms of love and self-control, and through the peaceful resistance to evil He had preached all over Galilee. “Turn the other cheek,” “Go the extra mile,” “Love your enemies and pray for those who despitefully use you,” Jesus told them, even in the midst of a long history of persecution and exploitation. He brought God’s love and wisdom to bear upon that horrible reality, because – in the words of one Jesus’ modern disciples (Martin Luther King) – “Love is the only force capable of turning your enemy into your friend.”
These opposing cadences rings in our ears today and urge us to ask ourselves honestly about the rhythm of our own lives. In the wake of so much hard feeling, harsh rhetoric, and hateful actions, can we find in Jesus Christ the ability to march to the beat of “a different drummer”? Can we lay aside our own feelings of anger, hurt, and betrayal, and ask God to grow the change we long to see in others, in ourselves as well? Can God’s restorative enable us to not “other” those with whom we disagree? The Prince of Peace says — we can. We must.
Point of Reflection: Our attitudes, especially towards others with whom we have or have had significant disagreement or conflict
Point of Action: Identify, pray for, and make direct contact with at least one person with whom you have a conflict over an issue like: adequate housing, universal health care, the minimum wage, economic disparity, racial prejudice, class privilege, or the relevance of religion to social justice matters. Make it your goal to pray with that person about that problem.
Rev. John R. Tyson, Ph.D. serves as Professor of Church History and Director of United Methodist Studies at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School (CRCDS).