A week, as Harold Wilson famously remarked, is a long time in politics. A week can be a very long time in anyone’s life, of course. I don’t know if any of you, watching old TV programmes, feel it seems a long time ago.
Look at those full streets and those people in restaurants and cafes; they aren’t just touching each other, they’re touching their faces!
I’ve been reading a book called Black Swan by Naseem Nicholas Taleb. The black swan is a Latin expression, “a rare bird in the lands and very much like a black swan”. When the phrase was coined, the black swan was presumed not to exist. But when black swans were first discovered in Australia the phrase changed it’s meaning. The author talks about events such as the First World War being “black swan events”; events which are rare, unpredictable but which shape our world. We are living through such an event now and in what way it will reshape the way in which we live, nobody can fully forsee.
The crowds who greeted Jesus on Palm Sunday thought they knew what was happening. Jesus would restore the kingdom, the unfairness of the tax system would be overthrown, their nation humiliation removed, all the things that were wrong in their lives would be changed for the better. Who knows precisely what all of those who thronged the streets waving their palms believed? But they shared a hope that a brighter future was coming.
Yet as we will find as we journey through Holy Week, things changed rapidly and the crowds disappeared as quickly as toilet rolls from the shelves of a supermarket. And who would have thought that I would be using that phrase in sermon on Palm Sunday? Or indeed writing a sermon for Palm Sunday because I’ve never written one before: when we worshipped in church (another novel phrase) we would listen to the Passion Gospel read by a group of voices. I suggest that you read for yourselves the Passion Gospel today: you can find it here or if you are isolated with three people you can read it for yourselves here.
But even if you are alone as you read this may I suggest that you read it out loud. Take your time and listen to the words because they are words of life and for life.