I had no intention of going to church today. Someday I will find my way to a community of followers and immerse myself into loving others and caring for the broken but today was not that day. As I was driving around the square in downtown Newark I noticed a growing group of people gathering at the gazebo and then I saw a donkey. The donkey and a couple of priests in robes was enough to give me a clue that this was Palm Sunday. I pulled my truck into the courthouse parking lot. There were no other cars there but I was pretty sure that i was “invisible” to the crowd of believers gathering. My window was down so I could hear what was being said. I enjoyed hearing the reminder of Jesus encounter with a blind man named Bartimaues. Not a lot was said about that story but I’ve known it since I was a little boy.
As I sat intently listening to this short service I noticed a woman making her way from the crowd and heading straight for my truck. I didn’t know her and of course she didn’t know me. She came because she wanted to make sure I had a palm branch. There was no reason to assume that I was a part of this group. As far as i could tell no one even knew I was there or watching.
As Blind Bartimaues sat on the edge of a crowd one day calling out for Jesus to come and help him it was the disciples that told him to be quiet. It was the disciples that viewed him as a nuisance and a problem to be ignored. But it was Jesus that stopped and answered his cry for help. Today this Catholic woman who I don’t know came to me in the Spirit of Jesus and extended a branch of peace and hope. God keeps loving and caring and for this I am filled with gratefulness. I’ve found Him in the most unexpected places.
Palm Sunday has always been a struggle for me because of the hypocrisy of the crowd on that day. I’ve never known how to celebrate that or remember that day. Today from the other side of grace I want to report that Jesus is same yesterday today and forever. His compassion and love never run out. As He headed to the cross many years ago to save the world from their sins He took time to reach out to a nobody on the outside of the crowd of Jesus “fans.” Today I learned that He is still pausing along the way and taking time to remind the nobodies that He cares and loves and offers healing to the least of these.
I am so thankful for His continued grace and mercy.
There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you. James 2:13 NLT The KJV version says this . . . “mercy rejoices against judgment.” Thankful for the great mercy of God shown through His Son Jesus Christ.