Too Soon

Post Author: Rev. Dr. Laurie Lyter Bright

This is a sermon preached at First Presbyterian Church in Neenah, Wisconsin on March 24, 2024. 

Palm Sunday: Too Soon

A decorative. abstract image of gold and bright glitter

Mark 11

11 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this: ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’ ” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said, and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10     Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple, and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Mark 14:3-9

While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish, but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”


Too Soon.


It’s so soon, too soon.

Over the horizon, 

The cross, the tomb.


He feels it rising, like bile,

Pushed aside, small denial

Of the things that will come to be,

Deep breath, next step, go set the people free. 


But first, a parade,  A riot of jubilance,

A colt, palm fronds, a mockery of militance,

A dare, chin out, a bit of holy impudence,

The disciples worry, he only smiles with diffidence.


The dividends, the price to be paid,

The cost of all that He knows will be lost,

How much does he know?

How much does he show

To the gathering of hope,

Crying out, end of their rope,

How long can we cope?


It’s funny how easily

We all adjust to tyranny

Like if its less than directly applied to me,

 to us the fear and e-

Ven though we know somewhere someone is hurting right now

If it’s mine to solve, I don’t see how,

So today I’ll avoid the glance

Look askance

Dodge the particles of violence

In very the air I breathe…

The Empire seethes.

Then like oxygen in a too-close space,

Here He is, salvation on his face,

Every step he takes, grace, erase

All that we allowed to happen,

Let the world flip over, let the sunlight in.

Yes let this be the Messiah,

This prophet they’ve heard, good for his Word,

The jubilation echoes, resounds

Safety in the crowd, his word is renowned,

Confidence this Sunday so very high

But come Friday, all will fly,


Under Roman decree

Til the streets are ringing only with pain


A God that so loved the world cannot be contained

To only the stories we know well

Only the stories we wish to tell.


Take. Another. Step.


Give them your best, 

No time to rest,

Preach and teach and heal and reveal

The turning over of the world 

Systemic pain no longer concealed

Sinister reach of Empire laid bare, an ugly flag unfurled.


Every word, he means it, let the poor know their worth

Let every lost heart that walks the earth

Hear they are known; they are loved

Empty walk away the rich,

Power inverted, he plucks out the stitch that it turns out held the whole thing together.


It doesn’t mean He’s not afraid,

As He mounts the colt, moves out of the shade,

The shelter of safety

Lost for good this last chance to evade.


His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy*


He’s nervous, 

but on the surface, he looks calm and ready

But, here comes gravity,

In the distance, looms calvary,


Ride on.  Ride on.  Ride on.


He knows.  It’s time. It’s too soon.

Their spirits are buoyed, his is a lead balloon.

Time to show up and attend.


But first, a gathering of friends, 


Chosen family, speaking love with impunity,

Take this last opportunity

To show what all this means.


We rush through it all to our detriment.


She rushes up, jar of alabaster,

Resists the voices to outcast her,

Holy gift, anointed one,

Should save it for the appointed…when?

If not now?

If not Him, if not this, then who?  Then how?


Blesses his head, sweet oil for dust 

Insists that she must


The disciples reproach

That she should even approach 

The teacher with this much.

Yet he knows how to receive her touch.


He knows.  It’s time. It’s too soon.


First, an empty room, 

a final repast, the last

The friends of his near past


Strategize, with bread and wine,

A borrowed room, a broken time,

Trade in stories, laughter, memories,

Accusations, who’s friend and who is enemy?

They dine with a layer of disbelief,

Hoping some Him ex machina might bring relief,

From the oft reminded warned of fate,

A brutal end comes, the appointed date…


Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, 

Just please, not yet. A prophetic promise we won’t outrun.


So the children with their halle-luhs

Sing out the choice that we couldn’t choose

That we all will be loved – and all means all.

We couldn’t do it. But it wasn’t our call.


And the hands of the one who will hammer the nail


Forgive them too, from pain beyond the pale,



The soldiers who execute the oncoming dread, 


The disciples who made promises, then turned and fled,



The women who stayed and watched, their love revealed,


His mother and the strangers he healed,



Caiaphas and Pilate


Soldiers casting for lots



Peter with denial, Judas betraying,


Every single one of you, every heart that’s straying.



A miracle of courage, into known destruction

A litany of love, a church under construction.


Beloved. Grace without exception.

The hard-won road to resurrection.


Ride on.  Ride on.  Ride on.


*See Mathers, M. (2002). Lose Yourself. On 8 Mile: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture.

Laurie is the executive director of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and an adjunct professor at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Her PhD work addresses the church as a site of social formation around rape culture, and she's currently writing her second book exploring the #Me Too and Black Lives Matter movements through the lens of prophecy.  She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two mildly feral pandemic children, and an overly enthusiastic pit bull named Angus Macdonald, Boy Detective.

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