Monday, March 17, 2008

Palm Sunday: The Pilgrimage of Passion Week, Holy Week, is Now!

"Are you going to use the Passion narrative or the Palm Sunday narrative?" asked another preacher and friend on Saturday morning as we watched my 15 year old son, Parker, play lacrosse: "Palm Sunday narrative. I like the parade theme."

My earliest memory of Palm Sunday is all about the parade aspect of the day: in Morrow Memorial Methodist Church, dressed in the white and black chorister outfit when I was six or seven, I remember holding high the green frond-palm branch, which was taller than I was at the time. It wasn't a sword necessarily, but it did blow a great breeze when thrown around and batting people on the heads as the green fronds came over each other's heads easily. Bill Cartwright sang "Jerusalem, Jerusalem," in his beautiful tenor voice (my mother loved to hear him sing) during that worship service.

For the last three years I was feted to Risa Poniros of Raleigh, North Carolina, singing "Ride On, King Jesus, no man can a'hinder me!" when I was interim pastor in Raleigh, North Carolina at a mid-size Presbyterian Church (USA). The children had palm branches in hand, of course, and paraded in and out of the sanctuary before them, leaving the front of the church bedecked in palm branches.

The amazing part of this week is how it captures the two twin, vying emotions deep within us all: "Hosanna to the Lord of Lords" sits next to "Crucify him" in our heart. We are one and the same person who says both, and lives out both lives, each and every day of the week. These twin emotions accompany us on the pilgrimage of life.

The pilgrimage of Holy Week has begun in earnest.

We follow Jesus of Nazareth, the Pilgrim God, traipsing this rather ragged, rocky, mucked-up, sorry pathway to his death, for us and for our salvation.

Pilgrim peace,