Leaning Into Holy Week: Palm Sunday
"Almighty and everlasting God, in your tender love for us you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon himself 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 come to share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
This morning at the 9 AM service, Gary encouraged us all to "lean into” Holy Week. This blog series will be an attempt to help us all do that in an accessible way. If you can’t make every Holy Week service, or even if you can only make it to next Sunday’s glorious Easter celebration, I hope these short blog posts will help us walk through Holy Week together, “that we may enter with joy upon the contemplation of those mighty acts, whereby God has given us life and immortality”, as our Palm Sunday Liturgy says.
I like that this service mentioned contemplation. It can be defined as “the action of looking thoughtfully at something for a long time.” And that is what Holy Week is intended to be: a long, slow, thoughtful attention paid to the things that are most important. Our culture has little time for contemplation. But an intentional turn toward engaging in it in this Holy Week may yield more spiritual fruit than you might expect.
Also this morning, Mike offered us a beautiful sermon that praised (among other things) the way our Prayer Book won’t let us forget the point of Holy Week: Christ’s passion (from passio, to suffer) for us. He pointed out that seems to be an intentional strategy of the liturgy, reminding us in advance of the most important moment of the story in case we miss participating in Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The collect follows this pattern. Though there are a couple of places in the Liturgy of the Palms that refer to the actual palm branches, the collect for today doesn’t even mention them. Instead, these are front and center: suffering, death, the Cross, and eventually the resurrection. Let's keep them front and center.
I pray we experience at least two things this Holy Week. First, I pray we take some time to slow down, to contemplate these mighty acts of God, whether that be in attending a Holy Week service, or in private and personal time with God. And second, I pray that this intentional contemplation will deepen our experience of the “life and immortality” awaiting us at Easter and that it will be a celebration with more joy than we could have possibly dreamt of. Amen.