Today begins Holy Week, the last week of Lent before Easter. For me, Holy Week is the most intense and emotional time in the church year. Before we celebrate Jesus’ joyful resurrection, we must wave our palms as he enters Jerusalem, share a last meal with him and wash each other’s feet in love and service, pray with him in the garden of Gethsemane, walk with him to the cross, and mourn his death.
As a kid, on Palm Sunday, we would meet outside the church doors and parade around the block singing, “all glory, laud, and honor to thee, Redeemer, King!” and waving palm branches. I loved being outside in the sunshine and once inside, I tried remembering how to fold my palm leaf into a cross (the rare adult-approved craft during a church service).
As we remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the mood seems light and joyful, a nice break from the solemn season of Lent. So the next part of the service always takes me by surprise, even though by now I know what to expect.
Just minutes after joyfully parading around the church praising Jesus as he enters Jerusalem, I find myself inside the dark church listening to the Passion narrative and yelling, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” with the rest of the congregation. Such a contrast is jarring and overwhelming.
The stark contrast between the beginning and end of the Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday service reminds me how quickly life can change. A happy experience can be clouded by sadness without any transition. An empty moment can be overtaken by a sudden feeling of fullness. While our lives are full of change, we take comfort in God’s constant presence and never ending love for each of us. This week is full of deep sadness, but thankfully, we know the joy that is waiting for us next Sunday.
Catherine Outten Olivo
Appointed readings for today: Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 31:9-16, Luke 19:28-40, Luke 23:1-49