Our Palm Sunday service yesterday was.. well, just like Palm Sunday services from the prayer book pretty much always are… living in the tension of the celebratory (Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! All glory laud and honor to Thee, Redeemer King!!) and the penitent (and the crowd cried ‘Crucify Him’… and he thirsted, and they gave him vinegar… – for at the Palm Sunday service we read the full Passion Narrative – the Gospel account of the crucifixion).
The service begins in joy.
And ends in silence.
Holy Week, I think, is nothing if not a study in contrasts… and an exercise in learning to live into the tension of what was, what is, what will be — and to try, if for a moment, to remove the advantage of hindsight, and of history.
My favorite Palm Sunday hymn is one I grew up with… (I know I’m a day late, here, but I hope it will still help get you started on the right foot this week.) We always sang it to the tune “Ellacombe“.
Hosanna, loud hosanna, the little children sang;
Through pillared court and temple the lovely anthem rang.
To Jesus, who had blessed them close folded to His breast,
The children sang their praises, the simplest and the best.
From Olivet they followed mid an exultant crowd,
The victor palm branch waving, and chanting clear and loud.
The Lord of men and angels rode on in lowly state,
Nor scorned that little children should on His bidding wait.
“Hosanna in the highest!” that ancient song we sing,
For Christ is our Redeemer, the Lord of heaven our King.
O may we ever praise Him with heart and life and voice,
And in His blissful presence eternally rejoice!
Details and citation here.
It’s a little… oh, cherubic? Childish? Overly sentimental? Yeah, I think so. But the celebratory text is such a perfect paradox with what’s about to happen… that works for me, somehow.. the thought of singing this while the kids are processing with palms.. well, that pretty much sums up the day for me.
So, the service ends with no blessing, no closing hymn — we enter in celebration, we leave in quiet – and with a prayer that our finite minds can suspend belief for a week so that we can enter the story, see the end from the beginning, and know Christ and the power of sharing in His sufferings.