Due to my husband’s illness, we were unable to attend Palm Sunday services today. This is the first day of Holy Week, leading to resurrection Sunday – Easter! We were extremely fortunate that Pastor emailed his sermon to us. It was so interesting to read the sermon, and then imagine Pastor giving the sermon and wondering where he would put the inflection on a word or phrase, for emphasis!
Apparently there has been a trend of late to refer to Palm Sunday as Passion Sunday and one of the primary reasons is that attendance at the mid-week services on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are not as well-attended as they used to be. As Pastor put it, “…many contemporary Christians go from the parade of Palm Sunday directly to the party of Easter without journeying down the rocky trail of Holy Week. By skipping over the events of the Passion, these Christians develop a faith that has not had a chance to struggle — a faith that has not grappled with truly difficult moments in the life of God.”
In my opinion, that faith will crumble like a house of bricks in a bad earthquake. When things get tough, that faith won’t withstand the pressure.
And so, the Pastor said, “So, after wondering about all of this, scholars have suggested a compromise: Palm/Passion Sunday — a day on which we recognize both the triumphal entry and the events of the Passion. ” And then Pastor said, “What do you think?”
My goodness! Why would anyone want to shrink wrap one moment of Holy Week? One moment of Jesus’ walk, and our full understanding of His walk?
And the Pastor also asked, “What does it look like to be saved by God? In experiencing the fulness of Holy Week, one of the strands you and I can cling to for comfort is the notion that this story is about God being with us.” And then he said something that will stick with me for a long time: “I do think that part of being saved involves a God who would stoop to step right into the messiest parts of life with us.”
Yes! God steps in, in the form of our friends and family. It is our true friends and family who are there for us in a time of great need. As Pastor said, “God comes — in the flesh. God incarnates. God steps out of grandeur to stand with us in awkward places at awful times to experience life and death. God answers our cries of “Hosanna” in ways so utterly unexpected that we have got to look (a second time) to see if they can possibly be true.”
I do not believe there is a better way to begin Holy Week than exactly where it began — on Palm Sunday. Your comments are welcome! God’s Peace.