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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Happy Palm Sunday!

Hosannah, 10 x 12", water color and acrylic on paper
©2009, Helen Read

This is the day we mark the beginning of Holy Week, a week of events that completely changed the course of time and eternity. I've been reading the Gospel of Mark again these last few weeks, and am struck anew by the person of Jesus. He was a man like no other.... the man people saw was at once intriguing and disturbing. He spoke with great authority - so much so that educated people constantly commented on it. He knew what he was talking about from a historical and a theological perspective. And he, himself, was not particularly trained in those subjects - he was a carpenter. That was notable.

He was engaging. Crowds of people were constantly following him, wanting to be near him, listening, watching, touching .... wanting more! The crowds got to be so numerous that he had to go down to the lake shore to talk to them - and then, get in a boat and talk from there! And, when he was with these crowds of people - he was compassionate. Touching them, healing them of every kind of illness. There were people who were possessed by evil, who also recognized who he was, and he healed them as well. Over and over again, he reaches out and touches the needs around him ... not as a carnival show - (he tells them again and again not to tell everyone what he had done - like they'd be able to keep silent about having a major deformity or disease completely removed!) - but simply because they needed his touch; they needed to be released from suffering.

He was confrontational, when confrontation was needed. He didn't shrink away from speaking the truth at the risk of public opinion. Especially for the religious leaders of that day, the ones who were supposed to know right and wrong, who had been "trained", he confronted their in- consistencies and their stubborn hearts over and over again. They were caught up in traditions which gave them powerful positions, and that was all that was important to them. With that attitude, they were no leaders at all... in fact, they had totally missed the point of God's heart for the people he had created.

He loved people - all people. His heart was for them - for their healing and restoration. He spoke to them out of love, touched them with love. But, he wasn't politically correct. Instead he was truthful. You get the idea, by reading through the gospels, that Jesus was a compelling person, someone who was good to be with ... and yet, someone that was not "safe and predictable". He was disruptive and at the same time, completely good and trustworthy.

On Palm Sunday (as we now know it), Jesus was on his way back to Jerusalem. And as he returns, he rides into town on a donkey. As usual, crowds of people are in attendance - people who are welcoming the man the whole country is talking about. They line the roadway with their coats and palm branches... and the excitement can be heard in every voice as they shout their praises! The whole city is stirred up.

But the week that will unfold, as unbelievable as it seems, is one that Jesus knows will end much differently. He has predicted his death several times to his closest followers ... and they can't seem to understand. That doesn't fit with the reality of what the people seem to feel about him. But Jesus knows. The mission for which he came to earth ... stepping into history - God taking the form of man - was about to unfold. It would be a week of high drama and terrible violence. A clash between the forces of Good and Evil... played out in a week's time. The culmination of which would change the destiny of people throughout history.

Come back a little later in this week and find out what happened as this week unfolded - nearly 2000 years ago!

(This has been a repost from 2009, but the history is the same!)   

A word about this painting: The border is done in watercolor and acrylic - a freeform splattered effect in blues, greens, purples, and gold. The palm parts are done with both watercolor and acrylic. The background palms - echos in a way of the larger front palm - are in blues and muted greens. The front palm is done with acrylic. I was especially intrigued by the patterns created by the crossing of leaves behind one another. Almost creating a grid where color showed through. It all becomes rather abstract in places. I wanted to depict a sense of the palms thrown on the roadway for Jesus entry into the city.

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