On this last Sunday in Lent, my little sermon encouraged the congregation to search out the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven in the faces we meet through-out Holy Week. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the crowds cried out their Hosannas and welcomed the King. But where do we encounter Jesus and welcome him? As I sat in a near-empty church on Palm Sunday, the question had to be asked: where is the Kingdom of Heaven being heralded today?
On the afternoon of Palm Sunday the kids and I belatedly joined the Palm Sunday Walk for Refugees in Melbourne city. We were so late we walked down Melbourne’s Swanston Street on our own, but in a way that was just as moving – it was our private declaration that we stand against the current treatment of asylum seekers and refugees by our government. It was an opportunity for me as a mother to talk to my children about why this was important to me and why I hoped that it would also become important to them as they grew into their own opinions about the world they live in.
We made it to the actual rally for the final few speeches and were engulfed in a welcoming crowd of (we were told) 16,000 people! It was encouraging to notice many familiar faces – some fellow Christians, some from long ago days at university, some from my wider community of friends. I was particularly moved by groups as large as the small congregation I led in the morning, walking together under their church banner. Walking for refugees as their worship.
The Palm Sunday Walk felt like the Kingdom of Heaven.
I am proud to be a Christian on Palm Sunday, where Christians have led the way on this walk of witness in Melbourne ever since I can remember. Surely the Kingdom of Heaven is breaking in when Christians – and others – declare that our way is love and compassion and generosity to our global neighbours. I am proud to be a Mum who insists that her children raise their gaze to the world beyond their own little bubble of comfort and peace. They are safe enough in my love for them to withstand such a small demand – to notice that not everyone has the same security as they do. And every Christian, safe in the love of God, is called to walk this way of witness, to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.
May this Kingdom come.