In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – Amen.
And so it begins.
Our Holy Week journey
Where we walk with Jesus
Through the last week of his life.
Holy Week is a special time of year.
The rest of the year,
Our worship is primarily that: worship.
We praise God,
And thank God for all that God has done for us.
We might change emphasis
From Christmas to Lent,
From Advent to Ordinary Time,
But our purpose is to offer praise and thanksgiving to God.
Holy Week is a little bit different.
We’re still worshipping, of course,
But there is something a little more powerful
About this season
In which we remember the stories
Of Jesus’s last week on earth
As he walked toward the Cross and Grave.
Because we don’t just remember them
In the sense that we are reminded of them.
In walking with Jesus in Holy Week,
We re-member the stories.
We reconstitute them,
We take out the dusty, dry bones,
And breath new flesh onto them.
We re-enact them.
We live them
When our Jewish neighbours celebrate Passover, as they will on Friday,
They say a prayer in which parents tell their children
“Because of what the Lord did for me
When I came out of Egypt.”
They say this prayer
Because the story is personal.
It happened to them.
It doesn’t matter that the people Israel actually came out of Egypt
More than 3500 years ago.
It is still the story
Of what the Lord did
For each and every person
Which is why it is so important
That today, Palm Sunday,
As we read the Passion Gospel
And relive Jesus’s trial, sentencing, and death,
We play the part of the crowd.
That is the likeliest position
We each would have occupied
Back in the day
As this story was first being lived through.
Just like that ancient crowd,
We welcome Jesus in
With palms and processions
And proclamations of his kingship.
We are so excited to see Jesus
Give us everything we long for:
Freedom from Rome,
Whoever Rome is in our hearts,
Peace and security,
The restoration of a long-lost glory.
Maybe the assurance that we’re the ones
Who’ve gotten it right all along – ha ha! Now they’ll see.
And, like that crowd,
We are so ready to turn on Jesus
The moment that following him seems dangerous,
Or even just
The moment he fails to meet
Palm Sunday is one of my favourite days in Holy Week,
Precisely because this quick change is so important.
This lightning fast shift
It is crucial that we remember
How quickly we would
How quickly we have
It is essential that we remember this story
With ourselves as part of the crowd.
Not least, of course, because historically,
Blaming “the Jews” for Jesus’s death
Has been a misreading of history
And violently wrong.
Not least, of course, because in our own history,
We too have crucified
Because they failed to meet our expectations.
Because as we sink in
To the story of what the Lord has done for us
When we came out of our metaphorical Egypt,
Our slavery to Sin and Death,
We allow ourselves to reckon with the weight
Of how much, exactly, God has done for us.
Of his gift of salvation
Offered to all,
Who called for him
To be crucified.
I invite you, then,
To the observance of Holy Week.
Join us in the Upper Room on Thursday,
At Jesus’s final meal with his friends,
When he washed their feet
And commanded them to love one another.
Sign up to wait
In the Garden of Gethsemane
As he prays through the night
Before his arrest.
On Friday, venerate the wood of the Cross
On which hung the Saviour of the world.
Walk behind him as he goes to Golgotha,
As we introduce children to the Way of the Cross.
And on Saturday night,
Come and wait at his Tomb.
Hear the ancient stories of God working out our salvation
Throughout recorded time and history.
Renew your baptismal vows
As we welcome a new member to join us
In walking through the Red Sea
And into the new light of the resurrection.
If you have never observed the full Holy Week before,
Make the time this year.
You will not complete it unchanged.
For as we welcome Easter morning,
We who have remembered the stories
Emerge from the Tomb with Jesus
Proclaiming new life
Who once called out