Sermon: A Tale of Two Donkeys

Sermon: A Tale of Two Donkeys

“Our sermon today is based on the story of two donkeys. Yes church, you heard me, donkeys. Hee-haw, hee-haw, hee-haw!” Dogood’s braying was so convincing that some in the congregation looked around for the donkey and the owner of the pet. If he had been out, he would have fooled the real donkeys.

“Donkeys are pets in some places. For some people, donkey meat is a delicacy. Many of us have unwittingly eaten donkey meat. In some places, they are pack animals or beasts of burdens. And in other places, they become circus animals after they are painted to look like zebras. Donkeys are very generous—they can breed with horses and zebras.

Turn with me to Numbers 22:21-31 and Matthew 21:1-11

You know the story of Balaam’s donkey. A jenny that faithfully toted Balaam together with his greed and temperament. But on this day she deviated. She saw an angel with a drawn sword ready to kill Balaam. She veered off the path to save her master. For that, she got a beating as her reward. She spoke to Balaam and Balaam didn’t even realize he was talking with a donkey. If he had realized he would have beaten her again and given her instructions, ‘Never speak to me again.’ The jenny experienced two miracles: seeing the angel and speaking. Balaam and his two servants didn’t see the angel until God opened Balaam’s eyes.

What story do you think the jenny shared with other donkeys? I will give you a chance to answer this question and two others. But before we get to that, turn to your neighbours, say hello, ask them what they had for breakfast, and share a donkey joke. Then in groups of three discuss the three questions:

2. Should Balaam’s donkey have spoken to her friends about the miracle?
3. Should Balaam have spoken to his friends or family about the encounter?

Laughter, murmurs and other noises of interaction spread across the church.

“If we had more time we would have listened to some of the answers. Let us consider what might have happened if Balaam’s donkey shared the divine encounters with her friends.

It is a donkey’s day off. The jacks and jennies are doing what other donkeys do when out together. They are catching up on the latest gossip, degrees of stubbornness, mating, types of kicks, which body parts to aim for when kicking and biting a human being. Balaam’s donkey seizes the moment. ‘You will not believe what happened the other day.’ “She narrates the events and for dramatic effect starts with the beatings. She stands to show off the welts. Perhaps, at this point the other donkeys interject to share their experiences especially the forms of mistreatment at the hands of their masters. But the moment she says she saw an angel, and then she spoke to Balaam, it is just too incredulous for the herd. They can’t even wait to listen to the rest. They walk away complaining, mocking and scoffing:

We are asses (donkeys) not asses (fools).

What kind of grass and shrubs have you been chewing?

With such delusions, it is no wonder Balaam beat you and wanted to kill you.

In Matthew, we have the story of the donkey that Jesus rode to Jerusalem. It was a young colt with his mother by his side. Jesus chose them and instructed the disciples to go pick them up. They were going about their donkey business when the call came. The two donkeys walked on a crowded road with cloaks spread on it. This was a public spectacle, a public miracle. The jenny and her son did not have to say a thing to the other donkeys. If these two donkeys were living in our times, the colt would be a celebrity donkey. He would have social media accounts and people would line up to take selfies with him.

The only challenge was that they might have caused fellow donkeys and their owners, their cousins, horses, chariots and their owners to feel envious. Which donkey or horse wouldn’t want such an honour?

The two jennies and a colt experienced miracles. They were humbly and faithfully going about their donkey business when the miracles happened. What lesson do we learn from the donkeys?

Work with me here, a donkey might not be your favourite animal. I guess some of you would rather we talked about lions, elephants, tigers and other animals we consider more elegant or ferocious. But what if we were all donkeys for a day? Some would carry tempestuous masters like Balaam; others would carry prophets and kings.”

Next week: Choirgirl

Martin Mburu

Judge Dogood © is a fictional character created by Martin Mburu

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