Yesterday I read the advertisements for various churches’ Easter services. It was interesting to note that many of the main-line churches began their Easter services this morning on Palm Sunday. The Anglo-Catholic traditions celebrate a week of Easter. There is a real sense of journeying with Jesus to the cross. The Catholic tradition calls it “The way of the cross”. However, the more modern & less liturgical traditions, such as my own, begin Easter on Good Friday and have a major focus on Resurrection Sunday. There is nothing wrong with this at all except I wonder if we miss a major part of the story and I think part of the splendour of Jesus as King.
Palm Sunday marks our entry into Holy Week. Although the week begins with great joy and celebration it’s not long before the scene turns dark and hostile. In a few days Judas will meet with the Chief Priests and betray Jesus and set the wheels of Jesus’ demise in action…
Holy Week is a week of descending into greatness; a week in which we are invited to journey with Jesus to the cross. We are invited to participate in his sufferings. We are invited to join the pilgrimage of Jesus into Jerusalem. We are invited to join the dusty road from Bethpage to Jerusalem. But there is more to this journey than a simple spiritual pilgrimage. Once we arrive we will witness, among other things, the betrayal and arrest of Jesus. We will observe the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. We will see how death gives meaning to life and we are invited participate in the sufferings of Jesus as a way of finding ourselves in Christ!
As we anticipate the suffering that lies ahead for Jesus we must hold this moment of joyous celebration close to our hearts knowing that the suffering servant does indeed become the mighty king!
One last thing, can I recommend to you Pope Benedict’s latest book, Jesus of Nazareth Holy Week: From the entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection. I will be reading it this week. It is a wonderful scholarly devotional which follows Holy Week. It certainly helped shape my thoughts for today’s sermon!
I do appreciate that the liturgical traditions immerse themselves in Holy Week. I do not go to a liturgical congregation either, but I am glad to see my pastor is preaching on Mk, 11.1-11, so we will be thinking about Palm Sunday and our King who came only to be rejected when he wasn’t what we wanted.
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