Meaningful Hosannas

I just learned that Jaelynn Willey, a 16-year-old girl who was shot at Great Mills High School earlier this week, will be taken off of life support. Her impending death, though not reported at the time of this writing, will likely be a rally cry at tomorrow's March for Our Lives not only in Annapolis, but across the nation. 
     We seem to have entered a period of marches. March for Women, March for Our Lives, March for the Environment . . . and all have been relatively successful. Millions of people have showed up, raised their voices, and shouted at the places in power. The headlines have dominated news media and social media for weeks, if not months, following. The discussions have entered our homes. The memory of those events live on within us. I, for one, will be certain to tell my son, Floyd, of the March for Women in 2017 and the Black Lives Matter march of December '14 in Annapolis. 
     Marches are ancient, too. This Sunday we observe Palm Sunday, when peasants living outside the city gates of Jerusalem got so excited about Jesus coming to confront those in power that they stripped the very trees bare to wave the palms about and welcome him in. 
     Yet: Palm Sunday failed to provide much of anything. People waved "Hosanna" and they made a great noise, but it failed to reach the palace or the pillars of power. Pilate didn't care. Until Jesus upset the tables of the Temple, most people continued on their normal day without a nod toward the "Son of Man" nor the people who greeted him. By the time Jesus came to be arrested, the crowds who had supported him disappeared. New crowds that called for his crucifixion, based on his upheaval of the system, appeared instead.
    Might the same happen after our March tomorrow? It is probable. Yet perhaps the march is more of a calling, a midpoint of community action, that calls us into the work of change. After Palm Sunday, our faith calls us into the difficult work of Holy Week as the place where we encounter the true challenge of ministry (and remember, we are all ministers!). Making noise will not be enough to topple injustice. We must organize. We must develop relationships to identify the issues. And having done that (which, by the Gospel model, Jesus spent 98.07% of his time doing), we then move to act in Holy Week style. Even then, if we follow the example of Jesus, our actions might seem a failure -- at least at first, as is the lesson of Good Friday and holding onto a sliver of faith when all feels lost.  
     My prayer is that something comes of this March that effects meaningful change that allows for human thriving in our time and our place. But should it not be immediately forthcoming, my prayer is that we continue to work together, build healthy relationships with our community, and do the work of coming together in the model of Holy Week to effect meaningful, substantial change, such that our "Hosannas" ring true, and no more children are taken off of life support after having been shot. 
     May God bless you and keep you.

Shalom,
Pastor Ryan