[#pictureLent] March 22: BRANCHES

12 Feb 24 Think-01.jpg

By Rev. Missy Jenson
First United Methodist Church
Goliad, T

First, read Mark 11:8-11

Do you ever watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City or the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California? These famous parades are televised nationally and have become a part of many families’ annual traditions of the holiday season. 

The parades involve thousands of employees and volunteers to pull off. Observers have to stake out their places well in advance. And the hours that go into planning, day-of-activities, and clean up afterwards are countless. In 2015, Rose Parade organizers stated that the construction cost for each float BEGINS at $250,000! Multiply that by the number of floats, add in the entrance fees and ticket sales … and you can just see the dollar signs exploding! 

As soon as the parade concludes, preparations for the next year’s celebration begin immediately.

I was raised in small towns around South Texas where the local county fair and parade were the main event of the year that everyone anticipated. The parade was haphazardly put together by well-meaning volunteers. 

If you owned a tractor, a golf cart, a trailer, or a horse, you were guaranteed a spot in the parade. All the different organizations of the town were represented and did their best decorating with what they could find from the closest general store. 

Participants were allowed to be on multiple floats or march with various groups: there was time to ride one float, jump off to run back to the end of the line, and hop right in with another group to show your participation there as well. 

Although our local parades were a major step down from these larger, national productions, it was a blast and it brought the whole community together.

And then, we come to our text today where we have a community gathering for a spontaneous parade. There was no time to prepare so they grabbed what they could – branches cut from the field and clothes off their backs. The One who showed promise of being the Messiah was coming to town. He healed the sick, ate with sinners, found the lost, and befriended the lowly. This was their chance to see him with their own eyes. “Hosanna! Save us!” they shouted in exuberant hope. 

No planning committees. No float entries. No giant balloons. Just one Grand Marshal leading the way to life everlasting.

Prayer: Jesus, we come this day joining in the parade honoring you, our Messiah. As we wave our branches, we add our voices to their cries, “Save us!” Help us to fall in line, to match your steps, and follow your lead. Amen.

Discussion/Reflection Questions: 

1. Have you ever participated in a parade? What was it like?
2. If a parade spontaneously developed around you, right here and right now, what would you grab to participate? 
3. “Hosanna” isn’t a shout of praise, but it is a plea for salvation. What do you need saving from? What is God saving you to?