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This is Palm/Passion Sunday

    

Published 2018-03-22



Palm Sunday




This is Palm/Passion Sunday

 

When I was a kid Palm Sunday was just that—palm branches and “Hosannas.” Jesus’ victory parade into Jerusalem at the beginning of Holy Week. I don’t remember the Passion part being included. Later that week we would gather on Thursday night in a dimly lit room to hear scripture read in low tones, silently pass the bread and cup around, and contemplate Jesus’ death on the Cross.  No palms.  No more “Hosannas.”

Sometimes it seems that the reason Passion Sunday has crept into Palm Sunday is that busy 21st Century schedules no longer allow everyone to be in church Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. It would be possible to go innocently from Palm Sunday to Easter; celebration to celebration; palm fronds to Easter Eggs, bypassing the Cross altogether.

Rather than lament how a busy culture has edged out another religious tradition, honestly, my experience is mostly of a Palm/Passion mixture. Sometimes more Palm Sunday, but also sometimes more Passion Sunday. Perfect days might be sunny and happy, but there are always doubts and questions lingering in the shadows even on our best days. To expect it to be Palm Sunday every day is not only unreal, it also ignores the gift of the Cross.  To expect it to be Passion Sunday every day is not only unbearable, but it also discounts Jesus triumphal entry and final victory over everything which can hurt or divide us.

It is a balance. It is balancing Palm and Passion. It is also balancing the meaning of “Passion” which in the Church is shorthand for Jesus’ death, and ‘passion’ in its most familiar usage speaks of the fullness of love and most meaningful things in life.

We have been using a Lenten Guide that draws on the beautiful poetry of Mary Oliver.  My favorite Mary Oliver poem is entitled “The Uses of Sorrow”:

Someone I love gave me

a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand,

That this, too, was a gift.

 

That is Palm/Passion Sunday….

 

Peace+,

Jim

 

 




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