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A Palm Sunday Message from Jeff 

Dear Friends:

On that Sunday before Jesus' death, he arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey, and the people thronged to see him, to cheer and acclaim him as God's anointed one.  They were not orderly, not submissive, and certainly not a prescribed two metres apart.  They were singing praises to Jesus.

At the end of Luke's account of Palm Sunday, we learn that the authorities reprimanded Jesus, telling him he should get his disciples to be quiet.  But Jesus replied that if the people were silent, the stones would have to take up the shout.  His triumphant entry into the city needed an exclamation of praise, and it would have to come from somewhere, if not people, then rocks.

As I write this, I've just come indoors from the eight o'clock Thursday night cheering session.  Neighbours all around the curve on Hogarth Drive were at their doors, with a vocal and percussive expression of thanks for the carers in the NHS.  My next door neighbour even had a frying pan that he was banging with a wooden spoon.  We were outdoors for just a few minutes; it was hardly anything.

But it was everything.

In the midst of these strange and challenging times, we know that there are people who are doing incredible service to care for those who fall ill to the coronavirus, and those who care for people whose distress has nothing to do with the pandemic, but they are more vulnerable now because of the unfortunate timing.

How could we keep silent?  How could we not join in the chorus of thanks for the dedication, skill, and compassion of the professional carers in the NHS?

There are others, too, whose service calls for praise: I'm amazed at the resilience of the workers in the shops who meet the demands of the public with patience and calm.  There are people throughout the town and surrounding villages who have made themselves available to help others with errands.  Professional and personal acts of kindness abound.

How could we not speak up?  How could fail to see how people have marshalled forces to meet the challenge that is just now coming upon us?

It's possible, of course.  We could ignore the ways in which God's love takes tangible form--in professional carers, in shop workers and delivery people, and in neighbours and family who stand in line at the chemist in the drizzle to pick up a prescription.  Often we do ignore the signs.  But not now.

The strangeness of these imbalanced times jostles us from complacency, and we recognise the precious and amazing gifts of love and service that permeate our world--people doing the daily grind, the challenging work, the extra mile, because that's what they do.  And now we see.  How can we keep from singing?

These days we are learning about social distancing and self-isolation.  We are wondering how long the extraordinary measures will last.  We may be concerned about finances, toilet roll, or the relative who's far away.  Or if we or our loved ones might become ill.

In the midst of our questions and our fears, may we continue see the signs of God's love in action.  And let us, then, not keep silent.

          No storm can shake my inmost calm
          while to that Rock I'm clinging.
          Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
          how can I keep from singing?
                                                            ~ Robert Lowry

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