Palms and Crosses

The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday, Year B

28 March 2021

The Collect: Almighty and ever living God, in Your tender love for the human race, You sent Your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take upon Him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of His great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of His suffering, and also share in His resurrection, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

Reflection: On this Palm Sunday, we will not gather in the Stony Hill square with the congregations of the Stony Hill Methodist and Roman Catholic churches to celebrate the Liturgy of the Palms and the Blessing of the Palms…we will not wave our palms as we process to St. Jude’s Church… we will not walk into church together, singing, “All glory, laud and honour…” and the “lips of children” will not be making, “sweet hosannas.” And you may well ask, “What is Palm Sunday without Jesus riding on a donkey, palms and processions and souvenir crosses?”  Palm Sunday is still Palm Sunday, because that is not what it is about. It never was. Palm Sunday has always been about Jesus entering Jerusalem. And, we are Jerusalem.

 In the Collect for Palm Sunday, I hear my mother’s voice, “Be careful what you wish for”. Many of you, no doubt, may have received a similar warning – that we may not know exactly what we are getting into; what we see may not be what we get and, what we get may demand more from us than we are either willing or prepared to give. The tension of Palm Sunday is reflected in our ambivalence – a feeling of hope and joy and anticipation but also a certain amount of fear, dread and reticence. We want to trust and follow in His way but we are unsure about the suffering and dying. We want to be disciples, but are unwilling to go where He leads.  We want to be forgiven of our sins but we hold on to the sins of others, as if God’s free love might run out. We are full of contradictions. But, if we take Palm Sunday seriously, we must face all the contradictions in our lives.

The liturgy presents the palms and the passion together, because that is the reality of our world.  Triumph and suffering touch us as well and each of us can name individual palms and passions… the celebration of life and love in marriage and the pain and loneliness of divorce; the joy of a newborn baby and the sorrow of parents who outlive and bury their child; an active and successful career followed by a retirement of illness and disability. It is a difficult place to be. 

Our country is in turmoil. There is turmoil in my life. Is there any in yours? Today, Jesus is entering a place of turmoil and struggle, contrasts, conflicts and confrontation; a place with a history of killing the prophets, fighting wars and living in violence. This most troubled place is not a geographical region, it is the human heart.  Yes, we  can name and describe the turmoil in our lives; the fear and uncertainty of our future, the loss of financial security, broken marriages, loss of loved ones, estranged children, loneliness and confusion, sickness and disease that have derailed some of our plans. And what do we want? Life to return to the way it was?  No! We have to make changes in our lives, for, if we believe that Jesus is the Messiah, then we must strive to be more like Him; we must go when God calls and follow where He leads us, no matter how inconvenient or difficult it might be. We must show others that some of the grace we have received, has rubbed off on us.

Yes, Holy Week will be different this year. We will not meet in our churches for Stations of the Cross; we will not wash feet or eat bread and drink from the same cup; we will not gather in the dark to kindle a new fire and light the Paschal candle. But we will not shy away from Holy Week because the One who enters the turmoil of Jerusalem, this, “One who comes in the name of the Lord”,   this is the One who will rise to new life on the third day.  

Meditation: Think of the opportunity that the turmoil of Holy Week offers, it is the place from which new life arises.

Prayer: As You did with Your Son Jesus Christ, be with us Lord in these long and dreadful hours of our turmoil and tension. Like Your Son Jesus Christ, may we too, call on You who are mighty to save. Amen.

The St. Jude’s Writers

St. Jude’s Church

Stony Hill

Anglican Diocese of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands

28 March 2021