Palm Sunday, Triumphalism, and Leadership

Yesterday, we reviewed the difference between leaders and non-leaders. Today in my traditional Palm Sunday post we will look at Jesus’s leadership in Passion week, and see what lessons we can learn from him, and like Jessica, we will look at a contemporary example.

On Palm Sunday, way back in the mid 60’s, according to the traditions of the Evangelical and Reformed Church, I became a man, with all the responsibilities to God that that carried. It was also when you traditionally got your first suit. The Sunday before was Examination Sunday, the test was verbal, in front of the congregation. This entitled me to take my First Communion on Easter Sunday, as was considered meet and right.

As always the Sanctuary was decorated in palm fronds commemorating Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Also as on all special Sundays, we processed behind the Pastor and Choir up the center aisle to this, Hymn No. 1 in the old E&R Hymnal.

And so I became responsible for my own everlasting fate, which up until this time had been my parents (and Godparents) responsibility.

Palm Sunday was, of course, the most triumphant day of Christ’s ministry. With the adoring and worshipful crowds which of course would soon demand and receive his death.

What can we learn from this? General Patton put it this way:

“For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. . .

A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.”


We know that earthly glory is fleeting, who can recite the exploits of Edward Longshanks or Frederick Barbarossa from memory. Sure we remember some of our founders but its only been a few generations, and we have been trained (some of us anyway) pretty well.

But what is different about the Christ, other than the Resurrection that is. Like most troublemakers through the ages, he died a common criminals death. Think about that for a moment. Within a week he went from the darling of the populace to an executed criminal, that’s quite a fall, in any time or place.

The other thing is: He never forgot the mission. What thoughts must have been in his mind on that long ago Palm Sunday, knowing, as he did, the fate that awaited him? But he never flinched, only prayed that this fate might be averted. He knew, as did his disciples and followers in coming times, that there would be many martyrs, Saints of the Faith if you will. There will be many more. Christianity, even more than the Judaism from which it sprang, is the religion of the oppressed, the underdog, the person who never got a fair shake in this world, the sovereign individual made in God’s image. All you have to do is: Remember the Mission and take care of your people. The shepherd of the flock. And that is more than most of us can do consistently, without God’s help, because it is one of the most difficult missions ever entrusted.

Do not fall into the trap of triumphalism, earthly glory leads to nothing but trouble. I think most of us know this instinctively. What is the thing we remember about George W. Bush? He had many faults, which most conservatives can recite from memory. But, and it’s a huge but, he was a humble God-fearing man. To me, that is a lot of the difference between him and Barack Obama. Obama wants lives for the acclaim of the crowd, the earthly glory, one could easily call it the cult of personality. In some ways, he reminds me of Flavius Josephus, a man who (in the 3d century, I think)  managed to turn some of Christ’s miracles into mere magic tricks, for glory and money.

And so the lesson for me from this Palm Sunday is the old one that the US Air Force taught me long ago and far away:

First the Mission

Second the People

Last Yourself.

 

 

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12 Responses to Palm Sunday, Triumphalism, and Leadership

  1. Nice and very interesting! My early Christian Traditions were of course from Irish Roman Catholicism, but by God’s good providence, mercy & grace I became Reformational & Reformed. But, I am still an Anglican, somewhat Low Church, but always an eclectic with some High Church ideas and positions! To God be the Glory, In Jesus Christ the Lord of “Glory”!

    Holy Week! The Week of all Weeks, liturgically! May we worship HIM, the Triune God, ‘In Christ’!

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Amen, Fr Robert.

      Like

      • Yes Amen! I think we are rather close somewhat morally, theologically, and of course I love the American Constitution! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • And btw too, God Bless and keep Jessica, wherever she is, and whatever she is doing! I miss her! She is a traditional, High Church type Anglican, and a very gifted writer!

          *I still have her on my daily pray list!

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          As do I. Wish I knew more, she is missed greatly.

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Yeah, I think we are, and I think Christians of most flavors are drawing together. Not theologically, but because we have much more in common than we do with ‘the others’. Same in politics, particularly between US and UK. Gathering the clans, so to speak.

          Like

        • Yes, we in the West, are going to have to sink or swim together I feel! I got the guest preach recently, and my Text was 2 Thess. 2: 3… “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.” Btw I believe in verse seven, “he who now restrains” might be Michael the Archangel? See Daniel 12: 1 thru 4, etc., to the end of the chapter. Indeed Michael seems to have a special place towards National Israel, and all the elect remnant of God! Indeed I CAN’T get my mind off the Modern Nation of Israel! It seems so central at the end of the age (Zech. 12-14), and surely we appear to be closing on the Eschatological End, Matthew 24 and too chapter 25. And note too, I am staunchly Post-Trib on the so-called “Rapture”, (2 Thess. 2: 1).

          Liked by 1 person

        • *to

          Liked by 1 person

  2. the unit says:

    Well, as I’ve said before I haven’t studied all you all have. But seems like all is magnificent and going according to plan. And all seems right to me. Now I don’t know anything about low church and high church though. All written here is pretty much like what Southern Baptist Mama said. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Low church/high church often comes down to liturgy, the term itself comes from the church of England. Jess (and for that matter me in the Lutheran sense) are high church, to us a proper service looks nearly like a Roman Catholic one (except traditionally the language). Low church is more what you are used to, I think, all the Baptists services I’ve been to were, at least. You’re not alone, the Queen is a low church type. 🙂 Reagan’s funeral was pretty high church, while those we usually go to, aren’t overly. Hard to explain, maybe Fr Robert will take a shot at it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • the unit says:

        OK. As long as my low church is just made up of repenting sinners and not arrogant deplorables. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Same thing in my high church, actually my local one isn’t very. Key point is knowing we are sinners really.

          Like

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