Entering the Gates

Today Christ entered the gates of Jerusalem and last night my son Tom arrived safely home.

It has been a watery week, the third week of drenching storms in the Bay Area, yet this morning I woke to a dome of blue sky, the clouds whipped away by cold winds. The sun brightened my world and my heart, parched with worry, was warmed.

My son turns forty this year.  Two weeks ago he journeyed to Nepal, leaving his wife and two young children in Boulder, leaving for the time his landscape architecture business.  He traveled with a ten-person mission team from his Presbyterian Church to help the orphans and widows of this war-torn country in the Himalayas. Children have been devastated by civil war that has raged intermittently in this poverty-stricken land. Many have been orphaned, many sold to traffickers. Orphanages have been founded and they gather these children in, providing some kind of safety and sanity. Tom’s team was there to help, to love, to help rebuild. And of course to share God’s immense love. I’m so proud of him.

I suppose, in a sense, in a mother’s eyes, her child never really grows up. Tom will always be my little boy, even though he is well over six feet and a father and husband. But I shall always worry about him, always pray for him, always feel I have never done enough. While Colorado is two states away from California, which in itself is difficult, Nepal is so much farther, and so much farther in culture, not to mention safety.

But my son came home last night, praise God, and as the days unfold I hope to hear more of his time in Nepal. Did Christ pull him close, as I prayed he would? Did Tom learn to love more deeply? Was a veil of this world pulled back, so that he could see God working in and around him? These were my intercessions for my son.

And today as we processed up and down the aisles of the nave waving our palms and singing All glory, laud, and honor, to thee redeemer King… I gave heartfelt thanks. I passed the high altar and tabernacle and crucifix above and gave thanks. I passed the purple-draped Madonna and Child and gave thanks. I processed, following the children who followed the clergy and acolytes with the draped crucifix raised high between two flaming torches, and the congregation followed us. We circled the nave and returned to our pews. Christ entered Jerusalem on a donkey and we welcomed him.

Soon, as we move through this coming Holy Week I know that the welcoming crowd will change to a killing mob: “Crucify him!” Soon our joy will be drowned in the tears of Good Friday. For as mankind we we carry the seed of Adam only redeemed by the wood of the Cross. The children of Nepal know this seed of Adam. They have known suffering; they bear the wounds of the Fall in the Garden.  But with my son’s visit, they may have glimpsed the dawn of Easter where God banishes all fear and darkness from their hearts. This team of faithful folks from this affluent university town in the Rockies have perhaps shared their God of light and love, a God who overflows with goodness and mercy. Hindu gods hold far less power over these children of Nepal, we pray.

I think our Blessed Mother Mary was nearby when her son entered the gates of the Holy City and the hopeful crowds shouted hosanna to the Son of David. She was nearby when he instituted the first Eucharist at his last supper. Outside Pilate’s palace, she watched the crowd turn on her son, winced at the crown of thorns and the lash marks. She was near as he picked up his cross and she felt its weight as he stumbled to Golgotha, the place of the skull. She knew the piercing nails, the thirst, the sword in the side. With all gentleness she helped carry him to the tomb and watched as the stone rolled over the entrance, covering it. She was his mother. Did she know that he would become that Eucharist that he instituted on that first Maundy Thursday? That he was the passover lamb? Did she know that he would rise on the third day, that first Easter, and complete man’s redemption?

My spiritual director often reminds me that to love is to suffer. To love is to sacrifice, by definition, for the beloved. Our God did that; our God does that; we must do that.

I pray the gentle people of Nepal experienced some of this amazing grace, these last two weeks. I’m sure they did. The sick were nursed, the hungry fed, the naked clothed, mourners comforted.  God was praised.

We enter Jerusalem, walking alongside the donkey. Yoked with Christ, with him we die to our old Adams, and with him we rise on Easter Day.

Did I mention that my son came home?
Thanks be to God.

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