Text: Mark 11:1-11
Guess what? Our Palm Sunday sermon focuses on donkeys! I wanted to title the sermon “Jesus and his burrito” but I’ve learned to censor myself in such moments. I have a friend in Del Rio who has a pet donkey named, “Jóte.” Since he was originally from Mexico, I was racking my brain for the Spanish word, “jóte.” “Why did you name him that?” I finally asked. “Because when I call him,” he said, “I yell out ‘Donkeyjóte.” We may love donkeys, but taking them seriously is another matter.
Years ago when I was living in Syracuse, New York, the Palm Sunday morning newspaper had two prominent front page pictures. One was Jesus riding on a donkey. The other was the Lone Ranger on Silver and was part of a promotion for a new movie about the masked ranger. I would love to know the motivation of the editor for doing that because I have never forgotten that front page.
It’s amazing how all of us compartmentalize some of our most important beliefs. Every Palm Sunday we celebrate Jesus’ grand entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey, but when we shift mental gears and begin thinking of all the challenges now facing our world, we sure don’t think that some guy on a donkey could be of any help. Those of us who have spent any time in Washington D.C. know how many statues there are around town of mighty heroes seated on powerful warhorses. Again, a guy on a donkey would simply not fit the occasion.
Another factor in the sermon will be a look at our distrust of institutions, which feeds our need for heroes. Who really pays attention when the American Medical Association says that vaccinations are important? Yet the occasional M.D. who offers a contrarian opinion often attracts thousands of followers. When you think about it, if every institution worked perfectly, who would need Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger, let alone a guy on a donkey?
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