Yesterday I spent some time remembering how uncomfortable a ride on a donkey can be This obvious Palm Sunday image of the Lord of all creation entering the most significant city of his day, a city of influence and wealth, the religious capital of the known world; here comes Jesus riding on such a cumbersome animal.
Being raised in the North West of England I have happy memories of Bank Holiday Mondays at Blackpool. Actually most Bank Holiday Mondays I would find myself in either Blackpool or Southport for a day of sun, sand and ice-cream. The journey over to the North West coastline always meant long traffic jams, and had me hanging out of a window looking for the first glimpse of Blackpool tower, thinking that every electricity pylon after Preston was a sign that we were nearly there. These were always happy holidays with a time in the day where some pennies were lost in the amusement arcade; fish and chips were eaten on the promenade, and yes, the obligatory donkey ride up and down the sands.
I would often join a long queue to wait for the Donkey ride, tightly holding my shilling so I didn’t lose it in the sand because if I did there would be no replacement available. Eventually I would be helped up onto to this rather wide beast, too wide actually for my little legs. If my memory serves me correctly it was quite a wobbly ride, moving from side to side as the animal laboured along led by some weary adult who didn’t speak much to the child who had paid for this privilege. When the ride started I always had a great sense of real excitement, in the middle of the ride there was a growing discomfort, and by the end I was really glad it was all over. When they lifted me down there was that feeling that maybe this wasn’t worth doing again – well not until next Bank Holiday monday anyway.
As I move into Holy week I begin with a sense of excitement, yet very soon this will turn into a growing discomfort as we move into Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. By this Sunday I will be relieved it’s all over as I join in the great celebration party and thank God that Jesus is Alive.
I trip to Blackpool also meant a trip to the pleasure beach, with a couple of the merry-go-round rides, finishing off with the Roller Coaster before we returned home on the Maynes Bus. Holy Week is always a real emotional roller coaster ride with its ups and downs, its twists and turns, its surprises and its emptiness, even making me feel sick at times when I think what took place. Yet even more than my childhood Bank Holiday Mondays featured donkey rides and the roller coaster, I need to travel again with Jesus through the harrowing events of Holy Week, to the Passover table, the garden, the courtyard, the cross, the tomb, to breakfast on the beach. And it doesn’t matter how many times I take this ride, as it’s always worth doing again and again and again.
Thank You Father that you sent Jesus to take this most uncomfortable journey for my salvation.
Jesus – during this Lenten season, remind me again to walk through this week with you, and to learn from you – even when it makes me most uncomfortable to do so.
Lord hear us – Lord graciously hear us!