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Viewpoint from Tony Mallion for 30th March 2012

Tony Mallion,
Cliff Park Community Church, Gorleston
When it comes to getting a ‘please, can you help ?’ type request, this was one which could certainly be filed under the heading of ‘somewtony mallion small webhat more unusual’.  A local church asking if I could suggest where they might find a donkey for a special service?
I was chairman of Churches Together in Gorleston at the time as well as a local journalist and broadcaster – in other words the sort of person who might just have this bit of obscure, but vital, information in my contacts book.  As it happened I’d done several interviews with the people who so delightfully brought back donkeys to our local beaches so I did have a number. They were happy to oblige, the donkey date was duly sorted and a live animal made available for that year’s Palm Sunday procession to the church, a reminder of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem at the start of Holy, or Easter Week.
It was easier for Jesus’ disciples two thousand or more years ago. The Bible stories tell us how he told them to go ahead to the next village where they would find a colt tethered up and waiting; no-one would mind them borrowing it for this short but important journey. And that’s exactly what happened.Dove right
The events and timing of Easter can sometimes get a bit confused, not helped by the seemingly year-round availability of hot cross buns in the supermarkets and first sightings of chocolate eggs on the shelves on Boxing Day – the kind of thing which often provides entertaining letters to editors, both local and national.
Yet it is all quite simple. On this coming Sunday,Palm Sunday,  we remember that the people waved palm leaves, yelled ‘Hosanna’ and warmly welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem as he rode on that donkey. Yet by the end of the week the crowds were howling for an execution which saw Jesus nailed to a cruel cross. God himself, dying for our sins, and then rising again three days later.
As the modern hymn writer Graham Kendrick put it so well in the song ‘Servant King’: ‘Hands that flung stars into space, to cruel nails surrendered’. And Jesus did it for us, to give a new start and new hope. In a recent interview the explorer, adventurer, TV presenter and Chief Scout Bear Grylls said of his trust in that same Jesus: ‘It’s a pretty personal, intimate thing and has been a huge strength in moments of life and death. At the heart of Christianity is the belief that we are loved and held and forgiven, and I try not to complicate my faith beyond that.’ Amen to that.
This Sunday and the week ahead – the most important in the Christian calendar -  may be a time to have a fresh think about that; perhaps even visit a church – though I can’t guarantee you will see a live donkey if you do.