The Stubborn Donkey and the Asses

“[T]hey brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them.” – Matthew 21:7

In advance of today’s annual Palm Sunday parade through downtown Excelsior, Trinity Episcopal‘s e-newsletter issued the sad, tongue-in-cheek announcement:

Between services the Trinity community will come together in a joyful parade, with music, laughter, and bubbles! Unfortunately, the donkey that was going to lead us is being a bit stubborn so he will not be with us.

Jesus on two donkey’s – Jean de Limbourg (c. 1385-1416)

Perhaps today’s cancellation serves as a reminder that the donkey is stubborn by nature, and that, if you manage to tame one, there will always be another nearby waiting to take its place.

Some churches today celebrate only Palm Sunday – “the Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem. It’s all about palm-waving and “Hosannas!” shouted and sung to the victorious King of kings and Lord of lords.

Other churches honor the paradox of palms and fists, stubborness and spears, appearance and reality: the king who refused to be King who rode an ass (or two) into the city that wanted something more than the mortal it could raise on a cross.

Today there will be no donkey on the streets of Excelsior. The donkey is just being stubborn. Or perhaps it refuses to participate in this year’s re-enactment when palms and hosannas take her rider to the cross again in a world where asses still rule.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Passion/Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017.


5 thoughts on “The Stubborn Donkey and the Asses

  1. A coincidence. This morning I mentioned to some of my fellow choir members that inspite of all the years I have been attending Episcopal churches, more years (I think) than I attended Presbyterian churches, I cannot get used to the incredible plunge from the Hosannas to the reading of the Passion. There were several days between, and one of the very most important, the institution of the Eucharist. (Also the cleansing of the temple — from the money changers, not from the sacrificial animals, both alive (doing what animals do) and dead and burning/burned, at the thought of which my squeamish stomach turns over. This cleansing might well have hardened the chief priests in their determination to see Him dead.)

    When Good Friday comes it is not, of course, a let down, or a “we did this already” feeling, but I think each event meant even more to me when those events are celebrated in the order that they happened. Difficult to explain.


    • Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday in the liturgical traditions offers a jarring juxtaposition, for sure. Oddly, I hadn’t considered until now your reflection that “I think each event meant even more to me when those events are celebrated in the order that they happened. Difficult to explain.”

      As time moved forward in our years, Protestant attendance the Sunday before Easter declined to become like every other Sunday rather than the huge attendance we remember as children at Marple. Unless people attended Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services, they never really heard the passion narrative in its entirety. They just jumped over the cross to Easter! There was no squeamish stomach. Ever. Just “hosannas”. But you can’t get to Easter by jumping over the cross, although that is quintessentially an American optimist thing to do. It bothered me as a pastor.

      I’m remembering Marple as I write. Is served us very well.


  2. Pingback: The Stubborn Donkey and the Asses – Empty Nest Man

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