The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle
Reflections from Catherine Wilson
Sunday - 10 April 2022 - Palm Sunday
Gathering into the presence of God.
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. If we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4: 11 &12
Dear friends in Crail and St Ayle,
In a book I have been reading in the past week, I came across the following statement “For my own part, I think it is a principle, a political necessity, to make the church acceptable to the people, as far as Bible principle will permit”.
These words weren’t written in 2022 in relation to the guiding principle for the development of the Fife Presbytery Mission Plan. They were written in 1843 by the Rev Dr Norman MacLeod after he had attended the General Assembly which marked the start of the period of ‘the disruption’. (The two volumes of Dr MacLeod’s memoir were written by his brother.)
How I come to have these books on my shelves I am not sure, and I confess to not having been aware of their existence until a few days ago! I pulled out Volume 1 anticipating it to be a dull tome written in very dated language but was pleasantly surprised at its readability, and I am now delighting in its pages. Dr MacLeod was clearly a man after our own hearts, he loved his Saviour, his Bible, his church, although not necessarily its governance, and the people of the various parishes he served. He devoted his days ‘to produce unity and peace among all who love Christ’.
For all of us, these are excellent maxims by which to live, especially in the tough decisions to be made about the future of our parishes in the East Neuk in the coming months.
The Word of God: Luke 19:28-40
After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?” just say this: “The Lord needs it.” ’
So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt? ’They said, ‘The Lord needs it.’
Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,
‘Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!’
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.' He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.’
It has been said that Palm Sunday is one of the most bittersweet moments in the Church’s calendar. On Palm Sunday we commemorate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem when all the crowds accompanying him sang a psalm of praise, waved branches and, apparently, welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem as king. After years of not recognising who Jesus was, of misunderstanding and of conflict, suddenly, the crowd seems to understand. They see Jesus riding on a donkey as prophesied in the Old Testament ‘Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey’ - perhaps they recall that Solomon had ridden to his coronation on a donkey. Whatever it was, the crowd finally seemed to recognise who Jesus was and what he had come to do – and they celebrated!
However, as we know now, and as Jesus himself knew then, this apparent realisation of the kingship of Jesus did not last. The story of Palm Sunday did not have a happy ending. Almost from the moment that Jesus set foot in Jerusalem, the crowd turned and melted away. Only a week later they were baying for his death.
As we consider the events of Palm Sunday and the days that followed, it is interesting to try to imagine what those days were like for Jesus. We know that he knew his death was imminent, because he told the disciples about it on more than one occasion. Observing the celebrating crowds, he must have known how quickly they would change. He must have experienced a powerful sense of foreboding, knowing that the worst was still to come. And yet, through it all Jesus persevered. Quietly, authentically, generously, he went about his business as he always did, teaching the disciples, responding with love to people like the woman who anointed him with oil, and holding his own against those who sought to trip him up with difficult questions.
Thus, Jesus is our example of how we might seek to live in challenging times, not letting the anxieties and stresses that lie all around us knock us off course, being who we are called to be quietly, authentically and generously. Throughout the events leading up to the crucifixion, as throughout his whole ministry, Jesus remained calm and strong - someone who listened more than he spoke, someone who never stopped being truly who he was. This is the Jesus of Palm Sunday, the Jesus of Holy Week. This Jesus stands with us through all of this, knowing our pain, giving us comfort, and loving us through it all.
Lord Jesus Christ, we want to follow you,
To walk where you would lead, and travel the road of faithful discipleship,
But though that desire is real, sometimes the way is hard, the path uncertain,
and we wonder if we can see the journey through.
We look to you for guidance. Lord Jesus, lead us in faith.
Remind us that for the joy set before you,
you endured the cross, and you sit now at the right hand of God.
Teach us to trust in you, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
Help us to set aside everything that holds us back.
Help us to run with perseverance the race that lies ahead.
We look to you for guidance. Lord Jesus, lead us in faith.
In your name we pray. Amen