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Pamela Czarnota Pamela Czarnota

Pamelas Czarnota is a member of the ELCA Northeastern Ohio Synod Congregational Resource Team, and a conference speaker, retreat leader, spiritual director and writer.

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What about the donkey?

April 15, 2011

Of all the figures in the Palm Sunday scene, this time the one that claims my attention is the donkey (a colt).

This animal was young, fresh, at the dawn of a life dedicated to carrying burdens, not a glamorous animal, and not one held in high regard. Unlike a war horse, it didn't convey power or authority. It was a creature whose sole purpose in life was to serve, and its first task, we are told in the story, is to carry the savior to the time and place where His power, in His passion, would be unleashed.

As I pray with this scene, it turns into a vivid collage.

This path into Jerusalem was probably a crowded pedestrian street travelled by many feet (human and beast) Cloaks were thrown into the pathway (a precursor of the red carpet treatment?) I can only guess at the combination of dust,filth and excrement, but I'll bet it was a mess! After all, this was a time long before street cleaners, other than the scavengers (human and beast).

Although the colt is generally portrayed as calmly walking along with the Lord on its back, if you have ever tried to ride an animal unaccustomed to carrying a person, (and a donkey!) you know that it may not have been that smooth of a ride! I wonder if there were times when that colt locked up and refused to move!  Did Jesus ever nudge the animal with his heels? or were the disciples pulling and tugging on the beast?

And what about those palms? No trumpets or banners, no confetti or streamers--just palm branches waving, the ordinary stuff that was available to the troop. Branches waving, cloaks being strewn, motley crew parading into town with voices crying out saying to the bystanders: Hey! Look here! Here is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!!!!!

Can you imagine the reactions of the crowd? Some may have joined in with the procession, at least for a while. Others may have watched with a degree of curiosity.  Others may have burst out laughing thinking "what is that about???" and others may have tried to get as far away from the chaos as possible, thinking: "Those are crazy people!"

Back to that colt.  There's something about that colt!   Whatever happened to that colt after the troop reached its destination?  We'll never know --its purpose in God's plan had been accomplished and it disappeared into the past, along with so many of the other players in history.

I am reminded that the Lord uses humble vehicles to accomplish grand purposes. Throughout His Story, God claims the simple and uses it as an essential ingredient in the recipe for salvation. If you look for Him where things are perfectly choreographed or where all is proceeding with pomp and circumstance, you will miss Him.  Look for Him in the places of paradox, where things are happening that are departing from what you might expect.

You may see Him in ordinary places using ordinary players in extraordinary ways.

Back to that colt. Colt, I am grateful for you. You didn't know what you were doing, but we tell you now:  You did a great thing!


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