I was going to write a really fabulous essay about our Palm Sunday Gospel lesson and post it here today. I tried to compose it last night...I had clever allusions to Monty Python, San Fransisco's late Emperor Norton I and the Burger King, and I was waiting for that wonderful "aha" moment in the writing process when it all comes together, like when you're kneading bread dough and suddenly you can feel the elasticity under the heels of your hands and know it's ready for rising.
I was going to do that. But then I went to church this morning (where, incidentally, I got to play the role of Peter in a dramatic reading of the Passion -- I told my pastor, "Exciteable; clueless; fails in the clinch; yeah, I can do that") and heard a message that's much better. I don't think my pastor will mind me paraphrasing it here. Probably not. I guess. Whatever.
My pastor shared with us that, once upon a time, he was asked to deliver the sermon at the ordination of a young man who'd been active in the campus ministry of the university parish my pastor had once served. My pastor decided to use today's Gospel lesson as the sermon text, and informed the young man that he'd be preaching about...the donkeys.
"The donkeys? You're going to talk about donkeys at my ordination?"
My pastor explained: Who better to identify with, in the Palm Sunday text, than the donkeys? Standing there on the street, minding their own business, thinking their own donkey thoughts, until suddenly strangers come up to them, grab their halters and say, "The Lord has need of you"? And before they know it, they are bearing Christ into the most important event the world has ever known.
"The Lord has need of you." That's the subtext of our baptisms...our conversions, if we've had those metanoia moments as adults...our vocations. Not that many years ago I found myself being dragged by the halter -- with the reaction you'd expect of your average jackass -- back into a life of faith; back into the job of carrying Christ into the world.
Later in the morning we sang a song with lyrics that went something like, "Ride on, Jesus, in our hearts; ride on, Jesus, in our hands."
The Lord has need of us.