Halloween has been, and always will be my favorite holiday. The candy, the opportunity to cajole Heather into watching “The Shining” for the twelfth time, and the carving of pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns…somehow this holiday just gets me. I literally never get tired of it and, frankly, would love for it to be a twice a year event. (Think about it…why not a July Halloween? Wouldn’t that be fun?) But the most compelling part of it is, of course, always the costumes and the informal parade that happens with them that evening as kids and adults parade from door to door in search of their favored candy.
I think I love that parade aspect the most because it is like this opportunity for this grand theatrical parade whereby we all get to pretend for one night…and that’s ok. Children get to pretend to be someone more powerful than they are, middle-school kids get to pretend to be children again, and adults get to pretend to be scared by kids in goofy costumes and fake plastic fangs…we all get a part to play in the parade even though we know its not real. And yet, the parade continues in spite of (or because of this!) and we all play the parts we’ve chosen for the night.
But, the next morning…it’s all over. The costumes are put away, the makeup is removed, the adults return to work with solemn faces and the kids trudge to school in their everyday clothes and we are all left with nothing but perhaps a few buckets of candy and several extra chocolate calories floating in our bodies. Parades are fun, but there also comes a time for every parade when the masks fall and the reality of the everyday truth shines its painful light again.
This Sunday we “celebrate” a day in the church known as Palm Sunday where we remember and participate in a retelling of how Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly to shouts of Hosanna! and the waving of palm leaves as people cheered him on. It’s even traditional on this Sunday for kids in the church to sometimes pretend to wave palms and sing as though we ourselves are gathered there with those at the city gates who are shouting Hosanna! But I wonder, when we pretend to stand with them and sing and wave our palms, do we remember that it will only be the next day when the masks will fall? Do we sense the great and terrible irony here that it was Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem that led to his death? Are we prepared to play the part on Sunday, but also then wake up on Monday of Holy Week and know that it is only a few days away when the same crowd would shout “Crucify him!”? This parade, you see, also ends painfully. This parade too is also a grand theater, but one that we can’t ignore because we have to be reminded of the parts we play. We also are those who play both parts this week and in our lives. Each of us hoping to be saved…despite ourselves.
We’ll see you on Sunday and if you’d like to read the story of the Palm Parade before then you can find it here: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Matthew+21:1-11.