Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palms to Passion

The earliest known account of Palm Sunday comes from a Spanish (or perhaps she was Gallic) pilgrim, Egeria, who described the elaborate ritual she saw in Jerusalem in 381 or so. Palm Sunday took all day, with time out for a mid-day meal before the faithful joined the bishop on the Mount of Olives for a procession with palms into the Holy City. Egeria wrote about her experience, and by the fifth century Palm Sunday had caught on in Spain and soon spread through the Christian world.

Our Palm Sunday did not take all day, nor did we have to walk so far. We began with a procession of palms that wound down the aisles and around, led by our acolytes and wonderful choir. We sang and prayed, and we walked and we waved our palms.

For me, it was a new experience though I have lived in many Palm Sundays. This was my first Palm Sunday at St. Paul's, and is was new and wonderful. We heard the ancient story of the triumphant procession of palms as Jesus entered Jerusalem. Then members of our congregation read the Passion story from the Gospel of Mark, reading aloud while standing in different places in our nave. David McIlhiney preached a homily about how we must travel with Christ to the Cross to unlock the Kingdom of God. 

And so our walk into Holy Week, and to the Cross, begins on a beautiful, sunny spring day (and that is Lori with her palm after our 10 am service). There is something fitting about the contrast of such a gorgeous day with the Passion story that comes next. I believe it is the contrast that gives Palm Sunday so much power.

Tomorrow, Monday in Holy Week, includes our regular noon Prayers for Peace, with prayers from many traditions. At about 12:30 pm we will celebrate a simple Eucharist. Please join me if you can, and wherever you are at noon, please pray for peace and especially for the peace of Jerusalem . 

May your week be blessed.

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