I worked at Lancaster County’s Barnes Hall Juvenile Detention Center for three years after graduating from college. There were many interesting moments in those years. One I will never forget is when I brought in the movie Ever After for the kids to view. It is a retelling of the Cinderella story with Drew Barrymore as Cinderella. Of course the kids thought this was a ridiculous idea. Cinderella, are you serious? Isn’t that a little kids movie?
But we forced them to watch it, and something amazing happened. The restless, grumpy kids slowly got into the story. They started to become Cinderella’s fans. She had a tough upbringing, something many of them could identify with. The emotion in the room grew until that ultimate moment when Cinderella shows up at the ball, depicted above. She is decked out in a stunning gown, and as she climbed the steps to the courtyard, those juvenile delinquents were cheering. Clapping. Getting up out of their seats high-fiving.
I thought they might like the movie, but I didn’t expect this. It was an awesome moment.
The prince sees Cinderella, and the crowd parts as they walk to one another and have a huge embrace. This is the Happily Ever After moment!
Just then the wicked stepmother bursts her way through the crowd, rips off one of Cinderella’s decorative wings, and reveals Cinderella’s true identity to the prince. The prince is flabbergasted. He turns and storms out of the ball. Cinderella is embarrassed and devastated.
Palm Sunday is a lot like that. We will sing Hosanna like the crowd entering Jerusalem that day. We will praise the Lord with palm branches. (Our kids even have a surprise waiting for us!) And we will re-enact the joyful crowd proclaiming that Jesus is the King!
There’s a sense in which, like Cinderella’s ball, Jesus is being announced as king for the first time to whole world.
He truly IS the King, and we are right to proclaim him so. But we also know there will be another crowd, just a few days later, that will turn its back on him. And so Palm Sunday is a bittersweet event. Palm Sunday is not Happy Ever After. In fact, the King was downright gloomy that day. You can see what I mean by reading Luke 19:28-44 to prepare for Sunday.
You’re more than welcome to join us at Faith Church to hear the rest of the story!