Palm Sunday 2015

Palm Sunday: Jesus enters Jerusalem












Palm Sunday, and here in Herefordshire making the imaginative leap into the world of Roman Palestine is not helped by the wind and rain; but perhaps a grey sky matches the grey mood. For this is a day of menace, a day when we must decide where we stand. The triumph of the entry into Jerusalem is short-lived. The crowd that shouts ‘hosanna’ today will be crying ‘crucify him’ on Friday. If we are honest, we know ourselves to be equally fickle. But it is the Man on the donkey who is key to everything. He does not come to condemn but to save, not to inflict punishment but to show mercy. We must take our tone from him. This is a week for healing and forgiveness; and though we know that we must be bruised and broken along with him, we can, and do, trust that ‘through his stripes we are healed’.


Palm Sunday 2014

On a previous Palm Sunday I wrote:

Today, wherever our Palm Sunday celebration takes place, we are in Roman Palestine two thousand years ago. One question we might ask ourselves is, where do we stand? Are we with the crowd following Jesus and singing hosannas; with the bystanders, looking on from a safe distance; or with those indoors, dismissing what is taking place as just another riotous assembly it is better to keep clear of? Our answer can tell us a great deal about ourselves and the way in which we see the unfolding of Holy Week.

Holy Week is quite brutal in the way in which it demands choice from us. If, during the rest of the year, we are rather unremarkable Christians, regular in our church-going and dutiful in giving to good causes, but keen to avoid drawing attention to ourselves and definitely not the stuff of which martyrs are made, this week reminds us that in following Christ we have made the most radical choice imaginable, one we must live to the end. We cannot simply bumble along the way; we must deliberately choose to follow wherever Christ leads.

I think today I would want to nuance that a little. This is the first time I’ve been unable to take part in the Palm Sunday Mass and Procession; so this year I am not among the followers singing hosannas but among the bystanders who look on from afar. Does that mean I am any less involved? Surely not.

There are many ways of following; many ways of being close to the Lord. One of the hardest is to feel we have no choice, are unable to follow in the way we would wish. It is important to remember, however, that the essence of discipleship is to follow as the Lord chooses. We must all accompany Jesus on the journey to Jerusalem, to Calvary and beyond. How we get there, when we get there, doesn’t matter. We can trust him to show us the way. ‘I would be at Jerusalem,’ says the Pilgrim in Hilton’s Scale of Perfection. That is all that matters.