Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday
Today is Palm Sunday. In the traditional church calendar (observed by many denominations), Palm Sunday is the final Sunday of Lent (the 40 days before Easter), the beginning of Holy Week (the 7 days before Easter), and commemorates the triumphant arrival of Christ in Jerusalem, days before he was crucified.  

Some churches refer to the day as The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday.  You may remember Mel Gibson’s movie from several years ago, The Pasion of the Christ. Passion, in this sense means (from Latin) to suffer, bear, or endurance.  So, the Passion of Christ is the suffering of Christ’s final days, the last week of His earthly life.

On Palm Sunday, congregants typically wave palm leaves and sing celebratory songs or hymns. The leaves are sometimes taken home and formed into crosses as prayer reminders for the week.  Some churches burn the branches and use the ashes in the Ash Wednesday service the following year, highlighting the continuity of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. 

The celebration of Palm Sunday is a remembrance of what we call the Triumphal Entry of Jesus in Jerusalem and is recounted below in Mark 11. Several years ago, Don preached a sermon on this triumphal entry, reminding us that the same crowds who shouted “Hosanna” on Sunday were shouting “Crucify Him” on Friday.  How fickle is the human heart.  How fickle we ourselves can be.

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

Almighty God,
on this day your Son Jesus Christ entered the holy city of Jerusalem
and was proclaimed King
by those who spread their garments and palm branches along his way.
Let those branches be for us signs of his victory,
and grant that we who bear them in his name
may ever hail him as our Lord,
and follow him in the way that leads to eternal life.
In his name we pray. Amen.

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