This is the day that the Lord has made. For us. Because of us. It could be argued that out of all these high and holy days, this one is the most … human. “Well, of course,” you might think. This week is a divine and human encounter; in fact, we might argue it is THE divine and human encounter. This is true; but hear me out. This day, this slash day, this Palm/Passion Day is the most human day of this whole event.
Every day is a holy day if you live into the truth of the ever-present God. Every moment is a moment rich with possibility and hope; every relationship is a potential insight into the activity of the Spirit; every conversation is a living word of grace and peace. “Best of all,” John Wesley supposedly said as his last words, “God is with us.” Amen.
Yet there are times and seasons that seem even more holy. There are moments that reverberate with the living presence of the living God, and our only proper response is to fall to our knees in awe of grace. These eight days are one of those times. Some argue they are the preeminent days when history, our history, and our understanding of self and God and life itself all changed. From Palm Sunday through Easter, the world is remade, a new creation, and we are blessed to be a part of it, blessed to receive a gift beyond words, which is nothing less than eternity itself.
Palm/Passion Sunday is technically the end of the season of Lent and is usually included in the Lenten worship series. It is the day to begin our walk with Jesus in the last week of his incarnated and earthly life. Carry through the sense of wonder and amazement; Read the story and then reflect in awe, corporately or individually.
March around the sanctuary, into the aisles, and up to the chancel. Dance if you can; march if that feels better, or just walk. Walk and wave as a way of drawing attention; you’re trying to catch the eye of the rider whose eyes are full of tears for you and for the fate of the city and the world you inhabit.
That’s the hint, those tears, that broken heart. “If only,” the Savior says. “If only you knew the things that made for peace.” For there is more. There is poignancy; there is suffering to come; there is a threat to the peace we long for, the justice we hope for. There is something deeper, something more involved, something in which to be invested, though it will cost something, from him first but then from you as well.
We all need a reminder of the story; we need to take our place around the table in the upper room, in the darkness of the garden, when sleep overwhelms us and then chaos reigns. We need a moment to listen from the courtyard as the trial commences and then the accusations fly, and the denial rises unbidden from our hearts. We need to stand on that skull-shaped hill and hear the hammer blows and the raspy voice offering forgiveness and grace almost unimaginable. We need a reminder of this before we make our way to the cemetery very early in the morning on Easter.
In some way, both triumph and tragedy are present on this day—both the declaration and the death, both the parade and the passion.