On Sunday (weather permitting, of course) we will gather in Daffin Park to begin the Liturgy of the Palms before processing down the street and into the church for the rest of our service. So begins the most important week not just in the Church year but in our lives. As Christians, our lives find their meaning in the life of Jesus and especially in the part of his life that lies between the Last Supper and the Resurrection. More on that in next week's post.
For this week I want us just to focus on Palm Sunday. We begin with recreating in our own time Christ's entry into Jerusalem where a cheering crowd as gathered to greet him. Their shout is "Hosanna!" - a shout of praise to God. The mood is all joy, excitement, and expectation. The long awaited heir to David's throne has come, and all will be set right.
We know, though, that in just a few days, by Friday, that shout will turn ugly, frenzied, and deathly. "Hosanna!" gives way to "Crucify him!" and we play the part of the raucous crowd turned angry mob. Given a choice, I expect most of us would much rather choose to play the first part but not the second, or if we're feeling particularly morose or repentant, we might decide we are unworthy to greet the Lord with palms and should stick to calls for his cross. Here's the truth, though - we're not allowed either of those luxuries. What makes Palm Sunday so powerful is that both of those words come out of our mouths. We are not only Christ's triumphant supporters or his sinister accusers; we are both, all the time. It is the turn from one to the other, the betrayal and treachery that lies within us, that Palm Sunday and Holy Week force us to confront and admit. WE see ourselves as we are - sometimes faithful and sometimes not; sometimes glad and other times filled with rage; sometimes loving but also often hateful. This week reminds us that not one of us is so good that we don't need redemption or so bad that we are beyond it. We are all in need of of God to save us and all within God's reach to do so.
Oh, and the first shout of joy - hosanna? Do you know what it actually means? "Save us, we pray."