Written by: Rachael Keefe

A Pastor’s Palm Sunday Prayer

How long, O Lord, will your steadfast love endure for a people still in in turmoil. Amidst the shouts of “Hosanna!” there are many who are still asking, “Who is …

A Pastor’s Palm Sunday Prayer

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How long, O Lord, will your steadfast love endure for a people still in in turmoil. Amidst the shouts of “Hosanna!” there are many who are still asking, “Who is this?” We wave our palm branches and fail to understand just what all this really means—no different than that first crowd. You returned to Jerusalem long ago, and some hailed you as a king, thinking that you would set them free. You would not rule in such a worldly way. Many still long for the simple clarity of one who rules with a sword.

Even with a palm branch in hand, I can barely whisper Hosanna, let alone shout it out. I hesitate, not because of what you have done so much as what happens in this world. My heart breaks for a world that has yet to live in your love. Just down the street refugees from war-torn countries try to scrape out a new life for themselves. Instead of unabashed welcome, they are often greeted with hatred, fear, and rejection and I seldom speak a word to make a difference. A walk downtown will have me plotting a route to avoid those who are homeless and desperate and asking for what I don’t know how to give. The news spits out stories of stabbings and shootings and senseless death, and the need to blame someone to make the world seem safe again. This is the world you came to save, O Lord; how long before we know that your steadfast love endures forever?

In this holiest of weeks, I want to walk with you. I want to understand more deeply what happened. You did not endure the fickle crowd shouting “hosanna!” one day and “crucify!” the next, betrayal and denial by your closest friends, and the pain and abandonment of the cross for yourself. No, you did these things for all of us who would follow after you. That, we, too might discover the magnitude of grace given with an empty tomb. Grant me the courage to walk with you, watch with you, wait with you… Your great love for the world endured all this and more for me, for my neighbors, for those refugees, for those who are homeless, for the victims and perpetrators of violence, for those who have mental illness, for the hopeless, for the whole world…

Open my heart to the triumph of this day that it may remain open in the days to come. Remind us all that you need us to bear witness to your presence as we experience anew all that is to happen in this next week. Mudslides, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, and droughts may make us question you when we ought to question ourselves. Even in those moments of misplaced blame, your love endures. Let those of us who follow you now, shout our “Hosannas!” with joy, a statement of gratitude for the way in which you offered yourself for us.

2012-10-05 15.51.05Grant me the grace to follow you this week, even when I am reluctant. Accept no excuses from me this week. Let me see only your great love for the world that endures to this day. Let the wonders of your love flow through me into the world full of people seeking to be set free.

Hosanna! Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord! Amen.

RCL – Palm Sunday – April 13, 2014
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Matthew 21:1-11

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About Rachael Keefe

Rachael is an author, a pastor, a teacher, and a poet. Her latest book (The Lifesaving Church - Chalice Press) is on faith and suicide prevention. She is currently the pastor of Living Table UCC in Minneapolis, and has launched a spiritual direction practice.

2 thoughts on “A Pastor’s Palm Sunday Prayer”

  1. Truly a wonderful prayer – knowing what is going on in the world and our small droplet of the world, it resonates with our experiences of every day. I would love to have a quarter of your faith!

  2. Thank you, Carolyn. We should talk about having faith. It isn’t a how much kind of question; it’s a yes or no question. We either say, “no, I don’t believe” or we say, “Yes, Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” I don’t think faith is the issue for most of us; it’s doubt. Doubt is often louder and much more easily cultivated.


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