Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace to you.

It has been a long year. Here we are  –  disciples  –  and we have been on the arduous journey with Jesus. Today we bring our palm branches and praises – and our hopes and yes even our fears. Some of us have been with Jesus for just a little while. Some of us have been following Jesus for a long time. Think back. Do you remember the beginning of your journey?

Do you remember when he was baptized by John in the River Jordan?  Were you there to get baptized? Do you remember how John argued with him, “I need to be baptized by you”.  Maybe you saw a dove or heard something from the heavens, something like “You are my beloved son….” 

Do you remember the fisherman, standing by the edge of the sea, and they were throwing their nets into the sea when we heard him calling out, “Simon!  James!  John!  (Call other names)  Drop your nets and follow me!  I will make you fish for people!”  Did you heard him call your name?  When he called us, we felt like, for the first time, we were seen.  We belonged somewhere. We were important to someone.  We knew, just knew, that he was going places, and that he was going to do great things, and that we  – WE were going to be a part of it.  From that day we began the journey with him – and we did get to see and do great things.  Sometimes we failed. We kept on though.

Do you remember when everyone was gathered on the mountain, listening to him teach about the way of love with God?  And afterwards, we were so hungry!  And, instead of sending us all away, he told us to sit down. We saw that his closest disciples had a little bit of bread – 5 loaves – and two fish – and we saw him lift that bread up to heaven and pray.  Can you still taste the bread that he gave you that day? There were 5,000 men, they said, and that was not counting women and children… and he fed us all.  Since then, we have been on the journey with him.

Do you remember when he held out his hand, and spoke a word, and healed someone?  He took mud and put it on my eyes, and now I can see. Maybe he told you to get up and walk, or maybe he opened your ears so now you can hear.  We were outcasts, lepers, and he made us clean, so that we can be with other people again.  He raised some from the dead, and they are alive today because of Jesus.  And so, here we all are, on the journey, following.

Do you remember the moments of forgiveness he offered?  All of the things that held us chained in a bad place, he broke their grip.  All of the things we are afraid of – he promised that the love of God would not fail.  All of the things we regret – he declared that they don’t matter any more.  He told us, “God forgives you all of your sins.”  And we got up and we followed him.

Do you remember seeing him, recently, as he was entering Jerusalem?  He was seated on a donkey. We had heard stories about him, and we saw all the other people following him, and we started following too, because of the things we heard and the people we saw.  And we thought, “Is this the One?  Is this the King God promised us would come?”  Because we had heard from the prophets that the King, the one who would save Israel, would come humbly, on a donkey!  The crowd was getting bigger and bigger and everything was getting louder and more exciting and people were waving branches and they were putting their cloaks on the ground. 

Some of the people were shouting “Hosanna!” 

Some of the people were shouting “Blessed are you, Lord Jesus!” 

They were shouting at the same time.

This is it!  This is what we have been waiting for. And we follow Jesus as he enters Jerusalem.

Hosanna! Lord help us! Blessed are you, Lord Jesus!

We know there are people who don’t like what he is doing.  There are people who are angry at Jesus, who are afraid of Jesus, and he just keeps on riding into Jerusalem.

Hosanna! Lord help us! Blessed are you, Lord Jesus!

We are on a journey – we are following Jesus.  It is exciting to hear the shouts and to see the crowds.

Hosanna! Lord help us! Blessed are you, Lord Jesus!

But he is not stopping here. He keeps going.  He keeps going into Jerusalem, and he doesn’t stop…..

We are on the journey with Jesus this week.

We are following the one who has fed, forgiven, taught and healed us, raised us to life, who has loved us and has called us his own.

He takes on the burdens of the lonely, the sick, the outcast, the poor.

For you.  For me.  For the whole world.

What will it mean for you to be on the journey with Jesus this week?