We have entered into the oldest rituals in the Christian faith – Holy Week. From the earliest years, Christians would mark the events leading up to Jesus’ death: his entrance into Jerusalem, turning over tables in the Temple, the Last Supper, Crucifixion and Resurrection. The Triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil) come to us in their modern form via accounts of a Jerusalem Holy Week in the fourth century. Holy Week is a time when we link ourselves to a two-thousand-year old tradition, remembering Jesus’ last words to us before he died, and the miracle of God’s love that surpasses death.
We begin with Palm Sunday. Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey – not a warhorse, but a donkey, the symbol of peace. He rides into Jerusalem, coming down from the Mount of Olives, and the people rejoice. They tell tales of the wonders he has done, and proclaim “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” These are joyful words, but also revolutionary ones. On the other side of the city, Pontius Pilate is entering in an elaborate parade, come to keep the peace in Jerusalem during the Passover. To proclaim Jesus as king is to deny the title to Caesar, which is just the sort of thing Pilate is in town to prevent. We see hints of the fear that will kill Jesus as some demand “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” Jesus replies by saying “if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
And yet, we know those glad cries will turn to angry shouts all too soon. When Jesus refuses to be the savior in “the right way” the people turn on him. Eventually, that stubborn dedication to loving us will lead to his death.
But today is Palm Sunday. Today is the day we hail “the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” Today we recall our enthusiasm and joy in the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. True, we will not always be so faithful. True, we will not always be so trusting. But I think it is worth celebrating our faith in God, waving palms and rejoicing in Jesus’ promises. We will fail and fall short. But Jesus never will.
Following the 8 a.m. service today you are welcome to help hide Easter eggs, and following the 10 a.m. service all children are welcome to hunt for them.
Prayers and blessings,