Blessed Are the Ones

Reflection on Palm Sunday, Year A


Textual focus: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Matthew 21:1-11
Click here for biblical texts

We say each week in church
“Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God.”
Who do we mean? Are we thinking of Jesus
riding on the donkey in Jerusalem
or our pastor, preacher, other spiritual leader?
Or ourselves? Could we be the ones who are blessed
to come in the name of God?

When the alarm goes off in the morning,
do we come to in the name of God?
Pee and shower in the name of God,
eat breakfast, get dressed, go to work,
lunch, the store, return home, eat dinner,
bathe the children, tuck them in,
watch television, read the paper or our book,
have sex, go to sleep, in the name of God?

The crowds acclaimed the Son of Daivd
as he rode the donkey walking on their cloaks
and branches, a peoples’ carpet—
believing he was their champion
in the face of domination by Rome
and distance from religious authorities.
Today, without fanfare, in terror
of what lies behind and perhaps ahead,
refugees flee the devastation of war,
extremism, chemicals, poverty,
maybe all of the above,
Blessed are the ones who come,
claiming in Jerusalem and elsewhere
power that resists fear,
breaks institutional barriers,
defies narrowness, all in the name
of the God of of holiness everywhere,
in everyone.

Who knows what will happen—a dead body
hanging from a tree or lying on a street or the desert
with a chest full of bullet holes,
or sex work or drug-running for a pimp,
or maybe,
just maybe, a new life, dignity,
deepening of soul connection,
new love or better job,
appreciation by others for gifts
freely shared in sacred communion.

Blessed are the ones
who come,
and go,
in the name of God.  

writing+poetryAbout this poem . . .It is easy to read or listen to this familiar story and see Jesus, the donkey, the disciples, the crowds, and to wave our own branches (although I have not seen coats laid on the ground), and feel good. But what about today? What are we doing that might cause others to see God riding or walking or loving or speaking in and/or through us? And do we allow ourselves to see, to experience, the blessing of ordinary, as well as extraordinary, others who come in the name of God?

©Robin Gorsline 2017

Will the Stones Need To Shout?

(Palm Sunday, Year C; click here for the biblical readings)

Will the stones need to shout out now
or will our voices, our presence,
raise enough rejoicing to unsettle
powers who mean to do all the talking,
their own agendas more vital than God’s,
so they tell themselves, and many bound to listen
due to economic necessity
or endless media repetition, never-ending
sound loops of the same loud voices
with the latest offer that in truth leaves
everything except the packaging the same?

We need now to take to the streets
waving palms yes and placards too—
justice for all, love is the way—
and our arms raised in hosannas
drowning out tired old voices, but more,
calling forth our shared power to create
something new with stones rejected,
not throwing them but laying them down as
a new foundation, cornerstone of listening
to each other,  choosing to stay open
to ideas from those we barely knew
existed until we found ourselves next
to them in the crowd cheering the rabbi
(is it true he’s from Nazareth, how weird is that?)
riding the borrowed bicycle leading
the ragtag parade of the powerless
who actually like us have great—
really the greatest—power at the tip and base
of our prayers.

Now is the time to get off the sidewalk,
out of the bars into the streets we used to say
when pride was our parade’s objective, but
now we are called to protect immigrants,
stop assaults against Black men, stand up for
transgender youth and Black women,
get health care for all God’s children,
finally care about native people remaining from our genocide,
help warring leaders to begin talking, listening,
so no more children need die as collateral damage.

This is the day God has made for us to wake up,
grow up, look up, act up, stand up, live up
to our heritage as the people of God led
by the One on the bike who heals, exhorts,
raises the dead, loves our enemies as much
as he loves us, and never ever, never stops
feeding us, all of us, heavenly food we need—
and crave if we are honest with ourselves—
to live by the beat, the truth, the beauty, of God

@Robin Gorsline 2016
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form

writing+poetryAbout this poem . . .When Pharisees seek to silence Jesus and the Holy Spirit working through the disciples and others in the crowd, really the movement of God in the world, Jesus reminds them, and us, that God’s voice will not be stopped, even if the stones have to shout.  But God depends on us to do the talking, which means we need to listen for and to  God, and then take the risk of speaking up, again and again.