Saint John’s La Verne joins thousands of Christian communities around the world in one of the most ancient liturgies in Christianity: “The Blessing of the Palms” is held outdoors on Palm Sunday.
Palm Sunday Liturgy
The liturgy includes the reading of the gospel story of Jesus entering Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover Feast several days before he died. He enters Jerusalem to confront the “evil powers that be” without violence or malice, but with grace and dignity. The liturgy also includes the blessing of palm fronds and palm crosses.
Everyone receives their own palm frond and/or palm cross and a grand procession moves the gathered from the outdoor liturgy to the red doors of the church. We sing “We are marching to the light of God” until we get to the threshold of the church when the hymn changes to “All glory, laud and honor”.
The Palm Sunday Lesson
Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem riding on a colt of a donkey reminds us that Jesus came to lead us in the march for a more just, more merciful, more sacred world, and the sacred story tells us that it is the children that shall lead us.
The color of the day is red, reminding us of Christ’s Passion, and of the Christ’s self-sacrificing love for the whole of creation, a love he mandates (on Maundy Thursday) we take up and do likewise.
The Beginning Of Holy Week
Palm Sunday is the beginning of the most sacred week in the Christian calendar. Holy Week moves from the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem to Maundy Thursday where he washes the feet of his disciples, institutes Holy Communion, and gives us the second great commandment to “love as I have loved you”, then to the Garden of Gethsemane where he asks us to keep holy watch.
It is in the Garden of Gethsemane that he is betrayed by one of his one and arrested for insurrection. He is pull in front of the religious and civic authority to answer for the trumped up charges against him. He is found guilty and sentenced to death by crucifixion.
Good Friday marks the day Jesus was publicly executed on a cross, mocked, scorned and abandoned. Holy Saturday holds that space between death and life again, until Easter morning when Mary of Magdela finds the tomb empty and the Christ risen from the dead.
The arch of Holy Week moves us from death and darkness to light and life internal, and moves us to be full participants in the building up of the Peaceable Kingdom now, in our world today.