Palm Sunday – Intro to the dramatic reading of scripture
Rev. Leah Lyman Waldron
Park Avenue Congregational Church, UCC
April 14, 2019
There’s an old joke about telling the difference between different Christian denominations which says you can tell a Congregationalist by the fact that they’ve read through the entire bulletin before the prelude is over. So if you’re a good Congregationalist, you’ll have noticed that we are about to do a dramatic reading of most of Holy Week.
Why, you might wonder, are we going through the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, and Jesus’ betrayal and trial on a day that’s supposed to be a celebration of Palm Sunday, Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem?
Well, that’s another common thing about Congregationalists – we, along with most Protestants, don’t have a long tradition of observing Maundy Thursday or Good Friday; after the Reformation we erased them from the church year and most of us didn’t start to add them back in until the 1960s. And we’re not obligated to attend, and so even though many of us find those worship services meaningful, we don’t always find time for them during the busy week leading up to Easter. So we sometimes end up skipping straight from shouts of “Hosanna!” to proclaiming “He is risen!”
But it’s essential to walk with Jesus all the way through Holy Week; not out of obligation, but because only by accompanying him through the agony of betrayal, humiliation, and crucifixion – the very worst moments of his life precipitated by the very worst impulses of humanity – do we come to know deep in our hearts that Jesus is with us through the very worst moments of our lives, and yes, even in our own very worst impulses.
So let us watch, listen, and walk together with Jesus, from the highway strewn with palms to the Golgotha road strewn with tears.