Sunday, April 9, 2017

Alternative Palm Sunday Celebration

Today, across Christendom, churches will celebrate Palm Sunday; many churches will also celebrate Passion Sunday.  Today, we hurdle into Holy Week--many pastors will be leading as many as 15-20 services between this morning and Easter evening.

We will be taking a different approach to Holy Week.  Today we will not go to Palm Sunday service; my sister asked me if I minded, and I had to say no.  Palm Sunday has morphed into Passion Sunday, with a liturgy of the Palms and a liturgy of the Passion.  I understand why, but it makes for a long Sunday.

I find it odd that as a Christian, Palm/Passion Sunday and Easter Sunday are my least favorites.  They should be my favorite--the promise fulfilled, redemption at hand.  But they aren't--the cross looms large, and my theology of the cross is vastly different from many of my fellow worshippers.  Jesus was crucified by the Romans, and crucifixion was reserved for those who were a grave threat to the social order.  I don't believe the substitutionary atonement (Jesus died for my sins, the only way to get right with God theology) that so many Christians do when they ponder the cross.

Palm Sunday reminds us that the people who will be our friends today may turn on us tomorrow.  The adoring crowds of today may turn accusatory by the end of the week.  That message is always an important one to hear.

The Holy Week trajectory reminds us of the joy we will also experience along the way if we're lucky:  good meals with friends, deep conversations, a God who comes to serve.  Today I'll focus on those joys by spending time with my sister and nephew.  We had thought about going to the Keys, but I think we've decided against it--a lot of time in the car with that scenario and lots of crowds, but not the palm waving crowds--the kinds that are in cars clogging up the roads.

Instead, we will go to Jaxsons to enjoy ice cream creations as big as our heads.  It's not a traditional Holy Week meal, but it fits.

1 comment:

Maureen said...

I learned today the reason Episcopalians (of which I'm one) now include the Passion in Palm Sunday Services: When the Church was revising the Book of Common Prayer in the 1970s, it decided to include the Passion because, our priest said, "people were not coming to church on Easter Sunday." Thus, what should be an occasion for joy became one of sadness. Perhaps that decision will be reversed in due time.