Heads Down, Thumbs Up

Sunday, April 9, 1995
| Philippians 2:5-11

The old adage, "Pray as if everything depended on God; work as if everything depended on you," can be translated into body language: Heads Down, Thumbs Up. On Palm Sunday, Jesus gave a thumbs up to the bowed down.

Christians commemorate the strangest things. We make a big deal over the fact that Jesus was born in a cave or stable full of smelly animals, into a family of dirt-poor Jews. We tell all sorts of stories about Jesus' closest followers, his most devoted disciples -- focusing on their being ignorant fishermen and recalling fondly how they constantly misunderstood him, doubted him, talked back to him and betrayed him. Most of all, we actually admit that, well, yes Jesus was executed as a state criminal, crucified between a couple of common thieves, and he died hanging on that ugly cross.

Not the least strange among these odd celebrations is Palm Sunday. Jesus, an itinerant prophet out of Nazareth, mounted a borrowed half-grown donkey and, accompanied by the worthless rabble that always seemed to hang around him, bumped his way through the city gates on the outskirts of town. That was the whole event. There was no more to it. The crowd lost its energy and momentum and quickly...

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