Today, Palm Sunday, is always an odd sort of day. Always a both/and. Both celebrating Jesus and mourning his death.
First we’re celebrating him with palms and processions and children singing Hosanna!
Then we’re watching him suffer through betrayal, torture, death.
We go from feeling to feeling so quickly. Kind of a whiplash sort of day
This year we wanted to have those feelings a little differently in worship, to give ourselves more time for the palms and celebration before moving to the mourning and grief. So we just heard the gospel story telling of the palm procession – we will hear the gospel story telling of Jesus’ passion and death at the end of our service today.
We made that decision several weeks ago, when we still thought we’d be getting to do the palms and procession in person with the kids and drums and all that celebration going around our block. When we thought we’d see our fellow parishioners acting out the story of the Passion here in our church before we all left in silence to begin our Holy Week. Instead, we’re doing it this way.
But it’s still a both-and kind of time. The losses are mounting, the grief is closer, the fear and anxiety are growing. As we watch the field hospitals being set up in our central park and in our own cathedral, as we hear of friends and neighbors suffering, we can’t help but feel all of the loss of the Passion this year.
And yet there is still something to the palms and procession. There are still children whose voices make us glad – still beautiful flowering branches outside on the trees – still the faces of loved ones on our screens.
And still and always, there is Jesus at the center of it all – Jesus who gathers us close in his arms, Jesus who walks wits on the hard road we are on, Jesus who shows us that off in the distance, greater than all our fears, is Light and Life.
The grief is still real; the Passion leaves scars. But the celebration and the joy are real too – and Easter is coming.