Cognitive dissonance, that’s the thing we humans just can’t stand. We’ll manufacture almost any what we can think of to eliminate it, even if it means twisting reality into unrecognizable knots. Somehow we need to harmonize events and/or ideas with our own world views, attitudes and beliefs, and we work hard to do that whenever cognitive dissonance enters into our personal realms.
In our tradition, Palm Sunday is the ultimate exercise in cognitive dissonance in which no amount of twisting or turning can achieve harmony. We begin with the joyful singing of Hosannas, waving our palm fronds about, as we celebrate the entrance into Jerusalem of our Messiah. Within moments, we are deep into the crucifixion narrative yelling Crucify Him! Crucify Him! and ending with the unresolved death of Jesus on the cross. It is unsettling at best. No one wants to be left with no clear way to harmonize the scene just played out. There are only four solutions. Ignore it altogether and just jump straight to Easter. Include one part or the other but not both in the same service. Invent some imaginative theological mumbo-jumbo to satisfy the congregation as long as they don’t think about it too much. Or, why not just sink into the mystery of God’s unfathomable plan being worked out. God, after all, seems to have shown no real concern for whether we humans are or are not suffering a little cognitive dissonance over it. Maybe we need to learn to live with it, not only in this moment but in others as well. I’ll have more to say about that on Sunday. You can say whatever you want now.