Our Palm Sunday service began with dancing, the waving of palm branches, and an upbeat song of praise to God. By the end of the service we were reflecting on what it means that Jesus was “poured out like water” (Psalm 22). Jesus, who claimed to be one with God in the most unique way, cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” We made this journey from fanfare to forsakenness simply because we are trying to tell the story – as churches have and will do all across the world this week. Part of the story is that in an astoundingly short period of time the people lifted Jesus up with their praises and used those same voices to lift him up with nails on a cross.
We would do well to remember this journey in every part of our life, including our pursuit of public justice. The Lenten journey, and specifically the power of Easter week, is the ultimate example of the fickle response to faithfulness. But despite the fickleness of the world, the burden of his pain, and the forsakenness of his spirit – through it all – Jesus was faithful. And in the end, that is what we are called to be. When our advocacy falls on deaf ears, we are called to be faithful. When our Christian hope is met with scorn instead of praise, we are called to be faithful. When our community, our nation, or our world seems like it is unraveling before our eyes, we are called to be faithful.
But we are not faithful…not always…not by a long shot. And that is why we celebrate this week that Jesus was not only our example of faithfulness. His work covers up our faithlessness and grants to us the benefits of his own perfect obedience. So when things do unravel, our response is the same: to fall at the foot of the cross and say, “we praise you for your mercy, you who have been ever faithful to us.”
Politics above almost all else, is fickle. But we, of all people, should relearn time and again the art of persistent faithfulness. And with the forgiveness of Good Friday and the inaugurated kingdom that dawns Easter morning, may we greet the light with renewed energy toward our calling of seeking public justice. May we join with Paul, who after praising the power of the resurrection said, “My dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
It is never in vain.
For he has done it.
-Dan Carter is a husband, father, neighbor, reader, runner, and Senior Pastor of Calvary on 8th St. located in Holland, MI. www.calvaryreformedholland.org