A parishioner wanted to talk about the disharmony she feels on Palm Sunday. This is a woman who finds the liturgy of Holy Week to have great meaning–the walking day by day through the Scriptures and prayers leading to Jesus’ passion. Why, she asks, read the Passion Gospel on Palm Sunday? Why not sit with the events of the Gospel of the Palms alone on this day? Why hear the long Gospel, too, as if we’re assuming folks won’t be back at church again until the Sunday of the Resurrection? Why do a week of Gospel reading in one day?
I’ll admit I’ve thought some of the same things. I want to walk each holy day with the integrity of that specific day. But this year, for whatever reason, I’m good with the circling back of the Holy Week stories–of previewing the whole week, then hunkering in for a day by day.
True. I know there are a slew of folks who will come to church today (and I’m so thankful for each and everyone of them) who I won’t see at St. Mary’s again until Easter Sunday. It may be good for them to hear the whole story today. But that’s not the point. I think we all need to be reminded where Holy Week begins–with the crowds, like me, who want a Savior they’ve created to their own liking. We need to hear the juxtaposition of the popular Jesus with the mystery and the truth of the Savior we have who is vulnerable unto death. The one who is always obedient to God’s will.
So today we have the palm cross.
So today we also have the nail.
I will hold both in my hand, and this Holy Week I pray that Jesus will get me nearer the truth of who he truly is, and not the comfortable image I imagine him to be. Comforting, yes. But not necessarily comfortable.
I am an Episcopal priest serving as Missioner for Congregational Vitality in the Diocese of Texas and a Benedictine Oblate of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, Indiana. I'm also an eighth generation Texan. My daughter, The Homesick Texan, has moved back home to Texas. My son and his wife live in Bend, Oregon, with my two grandsons who call me Grandma Texas.
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