Opening Prayer. God, open our eyes to the ways we can commit ourselves to you and to the people around us. Amen.
Scripture. Matthew 21:1-11 (NRSV).
1 When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” 4 This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
5 “Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7 they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
A Stubborn Faith. From Madison Chau.
“You’re almost as stubborn as your dad.”
I remember my mom speaking these words in a heated argument years ago. They were spat at me as an insult, as if my stubbornness was something I needed to change.
My senior year of college, under the stress of graduation, figuring out finances, finding a job, the end of a significant relationship, and burning theological questions I wasn’t equipped to find answers for, I found my faith shaken. My stubbornness, once directed at my parents during my angsty teenage years, was now directed against the faith community to which I had once belonged. I doubted God’s existence, and even more than that, I doubted the church and its ability to do good.
At any point I could have walked away. I came very close. But there were certain images within the faith that I could not free myself from: Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet, looking up at him in awe; Jesus chatting with the woman at the well, to the confusion of his male disciples; Jesus standing at the center of a circle of men, all holding stones, telling them to cast the first stone if they were without sin. It was my stubborn belief in the universal truths of these stories that kept me coming back to the church, in spite of all my theological qualms. It was a stubborn commitment to love, to radical acceptance of one another, that led me to believe that there had to be something true about Jesus’ life on earth.
Stubbornness, when surrendered to the Holy Spirit, does not cease to exist; instead, it becomes faithfulness, devotion, commitment. I saw that my stubbornness, when directed away from myself, could become an unwavering and faithful commitment to the good of the people around me.
Stubbornness, in the form of a donkey, was what brought Mary and her unborn child to Bethlehem. Stubbornness carried them to Egypt for safety. Stubbornness can be a blockade, sure, but stubbornness also has the power to carry us–through doubt, through struggle, through pain–when we open our arms and invite the Holy Spirit into it.
Questions for Consideration.
Closing Prayer. God, we thank you that you are a God capable of molding strength out of what appears to be weakness. Amen.