It Snowed On Palm Sunday (and other mysteries)

It Snowed On Palm Sunday (and other mysteries) April 18, 2019

Mystery: it snowed on Palm Sunday. Or, not a mystery if you’re familiar with Chicago weather.

Weather has a very specific way of reminding us that we are not in charge. I woke up and headed to our church, noting the cold and wind. Nothing, I thought. Just early spring chills, winter shaking us for the last time.

By midmorning the world was covered in a wet, dense layer of snow. Every window in the church presented views far more common to Christmas, not Easter. And yet Easter week began covered in white, already anticipating the Sunday yet to come.

People were stuck in their homes. Driving was treacherous for the morning, and the common warnings about shoveling and heart attacks ran their course. We shook our heads, curious.

The Easter holiday is best summed up by the looks on faces all around our area. People chuckling to themselves, “We didn’t expect this.”

Disciples gathered, shaking not from cold but from fear, saying “We didn’t expect this.”

Snow plows came out of their hibernation, leaving the salt behind but pushing mounds of slush into medians and ditches. Drivers muttering to themselves, “Well, how about that?”

Jesus comes into Jerusalem to the greeting of those ready for war, their palm branches like sabers rattling and raging against the Roman machine. Jesus has no time for it. He rides a colt, a donkey, a sign of peace. People cheer and cry for the final war of YHWH against the evil empire. Later they would remark about the colt and the entry, “Well, how about that?”

The Easter story reminds us of several key ideas about Christian life and spirituality. The reminder comes that we are not the only ones to feel our heart and flesh pierced by fearful, selfish men.

We do not face death alone, and more than that our travel companion has seen it all. He has the postcards to prove it. Fear not, the Bible repeats. Because we are afraid of that indescribably dark hole hovering just above us.

Fear not, Jesus says, I’ve been in that darkness. We will go through, you and I.

Easter reminds us that those who sat in the same room with Jesus were just as mystified by the resurrection as we are today. They didn’t believe it, they didn’t believe their beloved witnesses, and they doubted the women who had seen an unoccupied tomb firsthand.

Program note: women were the first evangelists, preaching the good news of the resurrection. We should continue that tradition.

But the winter snow clinging still to the edges of my driveway, I’m reminded of one other key piece of Christian faith & spirituality.

We are all awash in a sea of mystery.

While there are many attempts to “scientifically” and “empirically” verify parts of the Christian journey, they tend to fall short.

The reason being that we still celebrate the laws of biology and physiology being reversed – for blind people and dead people alike. There isn’t any rational explanation for that.

It still snows in April. There is a rational explanation for that, but it doesn’t change the experience of “ugh” that seeps into my brain.

The mystery of Jesus includes love for haters, bandwagon’ers, and true friends. It includes grace for the grace less and harsh words for the practiced religious elite.

It includes rain on righteous and unrighteous farmers’ crops, as a sign that God is complete and whole.

Perhaps it includes snow in April when all we want is the warmth of Spring.

Today we enter the triduumfrom the evening of Holy (aka Maundy) Thursday to the evening of Easter (Resurrection) Sunday. We enter into the great mystery of unexpected snows, dead men rising, and somewhere in the midst we find ourselves relinquishing the need to have it all figured out.

May we embrace the blanket of Christ’s good and helpful mystery.

(Photo by Shaun Holloway on Unsplash)

I’m happy to share that my new book, As I Recall: Discovering the Place of Memories In Our Spiritual Life is available now. Pick up a copy here

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