One of my dreams as a pastor has been to have a donkey…

Dear Congregation,

Grace and peace to each of you. I hope you are doing well as we look forward to Palm/Passion Sunday in two days, then begin our journey through Holy Week. The season of Lent has gone by quickly. I hope it has been a meaningful time of reflection and spiritual nourishment for you.

One of my dreams as a pastor has been to have a donkey colt come down the Sanctuary aisle of a church I’m serving on a Palm/Passion Sunday. My thought is that the sound of its clomping hooves and its very real animal presence would help to bring Luke’s text alive to worshipers.

Although that wish hasn’t been granted yet, I did get to have the experience back on March 25, 2018, at Coral Gables Congregational UCC where I’m a member. The picture accompanying this letter shows me and the donkey before the Procession of Palms down the street to the church. Although the donkey didn’t cooperate with the photographer by facing the camera, you can see that I am actually touching the donkey with my hand on his mane. It was special to me to make that sensory connection.

After the picture was taken, I joined a crowd of various ages of church people who followed the donkey and his handler, waving palm fronds and shouting “Hosanna!” The gray donkey was slow-moving, and calm amid the noise. He seemed so small.

I thought about the contrast between the gentle donkey colt Jesus rode and the big war horses ridden by Roman generals in long-ago Jerusalem parades celebrating their victories in battle. The donkey was chosen by Jesus as a symbol of the vast difference between his kingdom and that of those who conquer with weapons and fear, and in fulfillment Zechariah’s prophecy,

9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The followers of the man on the donkey continue today to stand as a contrast to the powers of oppression, injustice, and war which continue these thousands of years later. Another, much bigger, dream of mine is that the day will come when the peace of Christ will spread across the earth as palms were spread across the road to honor the King who came on a gentle donkey. May God make it so!


In Christ’s love,

Pastor Candy

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