April 5, 2020: Premeditated Resentment

Jesus with bowed head

Palm Sunday

There’s a saying among people in recovery: “Expectation is a premeditated form of resentment.” It works something like this. Let’s say I’m a pastor. And let’s say that, as a pastor, Holy Week is a big deal for me. Not just because I’m busy leading a bunch of worship services—nightly Holy Week Readings, Maundy Thursday Communion, Good Friday, and so on—but because those services mean a lot to me, personally. Let’s say that Holy Week worship enriches my faith, feeds my soul, and connects me to my Lord and Savior. And let’s say that I want my congregation to feel the same, and as deeply as I have.

That’s an expectation; and it’s trouble. Because, when my expectations don’t pan out—when things go wrong, or attendance is thin, or people just don’t seem to connect—chances are that I’m going to feel resentment. Resentment toward people, resentment toward the world—and quite possibly, resentment toward God.

Another example? Imagine a nation of people—call them a “cultural group.” Imagine that they’re socially and politically oppressed, that their lands have been taken from them, that they are occupied by a foreign power. What would happen if a savior arrived with promises of deliverance? What would happen, if the people had specific expectations—that this savior would destroy their enemies, restore their political power, and make of them leaders of a new world order? What would happen to this savior, if he didn’t live up to those expectations?

But we know that story, don’t we? The crowds are very different, between Palm Sunday and Good Friday—and the difference lies in expectation and resentment. In this life, we have to learn to set aside our expectations, if we would walk in faith with our Christ!

Reflections of a Moravian on Matthew 21:1–11 (Palm Sunday)