Last Sunday 50 of us returned from a pilgrimage to Turkey. Despite the headlines, we never felt insecure, and it was a truly inspiring experience to walk and stay in the places we read about in Acts, Revelation and the letters of Paul.
Perhaps my favorite spot this time was one that my daughter Rachel insisted we include in the itinerary: Assos. If you’ve forgotten that Assos is mentioned in the Bible (Acts 20) don’t feel badly; I didn’t remember it either. Assos is a tiny little harbor town where Paul was picked up by a boat full of friends on his final journey to Jerusalem before his arrest.
Assos is so small that tour buses cannot navigate its streets. In order to reach the hotels in the harbor, mini-buses pick you up at a parking area on top of the hill. Several such vans made their way back and forth, ferrying our 50 folks down to the harbor. I was in the final group and—after waiting for quite a long time—we finally realized we had been forgotten! So, we began the long walk down the hill and into the town. I wasn’t sure which hotel we were staying at, so I just went from door to door asking if we belonged there! After three such stops, we finally found our home for the night, having dragged our bags half a mile and sneaking into town.
There is a sense in which Jesus “snuck into town” when he was born. Of course there were angels announcing to shepherds and a star to guide the Persian astrologers, but for the most part, the Son of God’s arrival was pretty low-key: tiny little town, no room in the inn, laid in a feed trough and the like. The Son of God had come to visit us, and essentially he said, “Shhh… let’s keep this on the down low!”
Then came Palm Sunday. For anyone familiar with the book of Zechariah, the way Jesus entered into Jerusalem was the equivalent of taking out a full-page ad that read, “Attention: the Messiah will make his appearance on the Mt. of Olives this Sunday at 3:00 p.m! Bring your own palm branches!”
Since September, we have looked for glimpses of the Scarlet Thread in the Story… whispers of Jesus in the Old Testament. On Palm Sunday, we shout it from the housetops: the Messiah is here! Join us as we kick off Holy Week together.
P.S. Maundy Thursday is one of my favorite services. Join us on Thursday at 7:00pm. And then invite a friend to one of our Easter services: Saturday night, modern worship at 6:30pm in the sanctuary; and Sunday, blended worship at 8:00 & 9:30am, and another modern worship service at 11:00am.