Resources for Holy Week #1: Palm Sunday

Every year before Holy Week I like to update my resources for the season. The list continues to grow so this year I thought I would divide it into several lists: Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.

Palm Sunday, this coming Sunday marks, the beginning of Holy week.  It celebrates Jesus procession into Jerusalem where people threw down palm fronds to celebrate his entry into the holy city. Many churches process around their churches waving palm fronds and crosses as a symbol of this triumphal event.

Last year I wrote this reflection which contrasts Jesus entry into Jerusalem with the very different entry of Pilot on the other side of the city:

Palm Sunday 2012 – Which Procession Will We Join?

There however a huge number of resources for this season.

As usual Textweek.com has a very comprehensive and excellent list of resources  from all over the world to help prepare for this celebration.

Faith at home has some good suggestions on activities to participate in with children.

And Little Takas  has a variety of colouring pages available for children of all ages.

What we often don’t realize is that this was a very subversive event, symbolizing the in breaking of God’s kingdom with its upside down values and countercultural ways. Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem may have begun with crowds shouting Hosanna but it ends with Good Friday and the apparent triumph of the powers of the Roman Empire and of Satan.  It does not end with a gold crown but with a crown of thorns.  Jesus triumphal entry ends with his willingness to take into himself all the pain and suffering of our world so that together we can celebrate the beginning of a new procession on Easter Sunday – a procession that leads us into God’s banquet feast and the wonder of God’s eternal world.

I really enjoyed watching this short video on how to make a palm cross for Palm Sunday.

You might also enjoy watching this rendition of All Glory Laud and Honour which is the traditional hymn sung on this day.

The traditional hymn sung on this day is All Glory Laud and Honor

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Blessed Is He Who Comes In The Name of the Lord by Richard Brown

Palm/Passion Sunday
Isaiah 50:4-9a/50:4-6 IV, Psalm 31:9-16Philippians 2:5-11Mark 14:1-15, 47/14:1-15, 51, Mark 11: 1-11/11:1-13 IV

This post was written by Rich Brown a freelance writer, editor, and publisher specializing in religion. It was first posted on his blog Forewords as Blessed Is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord.

Here we are, once more, just days away from Palm/Passion Sunday, the beginning of the most important week in the Christian calendar. Yet it brings this rather uncomfortable question: How many Christians really care, or for that matter actually notice and alter their normal routines?

For much of my adult working life I was a (if you’ll pardon the crassness of the term) a “professional religionist.” As an editor for my denomination’s publishing house before and after it was absorbed into its international headquarters, I couldn’t help but be aware of Holy Week’s importance. And this was true, despite the fact my faith community was hardly “high church,” liturgically speaking. Well, at least the office was closed every Good Friday and there was not-so-subtle encouragement to participate in local congregational activities throughout the rest of the week, as well.

Anthony Falbo, "Gethsemene" (The Hour is Near, 2006)

That was nothing like my first year in seminary, however. I recall what a very big deal that was: foot washing in my own congregation during a Maundy Thursday service, attendance at two (!) quite different Good Friday services (my New Testament professor preached the homily at the Anglican cathedral downtown; afterward, several of us seminary students dropped by a Baptist communion service); then there was the Great Saturday Vigil service in the school’s chapel, which followed the centuries-old Anglican rite (including incense–didn’t care for it then, don’t much like it now either), a sunrise service on Easter morning, followed by a glorious Easter service in my own congregation. I was exhausted by Sunday afternoon. It’s just a good thing the school gave us “Easter Monday” off, as well.

Nowadays, well,… at least I blog. I don’t think I’ve attended a Good Friday service in all the years since.

But enough about me and my mea culpa.

I wonder: Will American Christians this weekend be more focused on the beginning of Holy Week or the end of this year’s NCAA basketball season with the Final Four semi-finals Saturday night and the finals Monday evening in New Orleans’ Superdome? It’s probably unfair to even ask such a question. And I don’t bring up the subject to guilt anyone into “appropriate” religious observance.

But maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea for us all to hit the pause button on life and spend some time in the Gospels. This year’s lectionary takes us through Mark, at least until Good Friday when, as always, the lectionary focuses on the Gospel of John.

Matthew and Luke are perfectly fine accounts, of course, although Mark has the advantage of brevity. Recall, too, that Mark begins this way: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (1:1 NRSV). Mark spends a lot of time and effort to persuade us of that basic truth, that Jesus is indeed the Son of God. But it isn’t until chapter 15 until a Roman soldier, of all people, proclaims this out loud: “Now when the centurian, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, `Truly this man was God’s Son!’” (15:39).

Even if all we do is start reading Mark’s Gospel with chapter 14 and go to its end (at 16:20), we will find a story like no other. Keep in mind that Luke and Matthew offer differing perspectives and details–fortunately, there is no “one true account” of God’s good news. Palms and hosannas in Jerusalem. Cleansing the Temple. With Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany. The Upper Room. Gethsemene. Arrest and trial. Peter’s denial. Crucifixion. Empty tomb. Certainly it’s far more important than checking off those last few brackets in our NCAA predictions.

May the coming week be, for you and for me, an exceptionally holy one.

All Glory Laud and Honour – Traditional Hymn for Palm Sunday

The traditional hymn for Palm Sunday is All Glory Laud and Honor. I love to parade around the church waving palm fronds and singing these beautiful words. I thought that those of you who are unfamiliar with this hymn might appreciate this version with the lyrics provided. And for those of us that are familiar with it there is never any harm in getting a little practice.

Palm Sunday 2012 – Which Procession Will We Join?

Palm Sunday by Bill Hemmerling image via http://terigalleries.com

Palm Sunday by Bill Hemmerling image via http://terigalleries.com

This post on Palm Sunday is an adaptation of posts I have written in previous years. I am reblogging it here because I feel that it is very appropriate for the theme of this year’s Lenten series What Do We Hunger and Thirst For? It particularly came mind after I read my husband Tom’s post for Saturday Thirsting for Justice in a Society of Growing Inequality and the comment by Joe Carson, one of the co-ordinators for the Occupy EPA rally.

I suggest you should connect the “hunger and thirst for righteousness” with “suffering for righteousness’ sake” in the ways the priviliged Christians who read your blog will most likely find opportunities to do so – related to their vocations.

But that is, in my experience, a “red line” Christian religious professionals will not cross, because the “blowback” from the pew sitters could well leave them saying “would you like fries with that?” in their next job.

The message of Jesus was always subversive, and no more so than on that day that he entered into Jerusalem.

———-

This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday the beginning of Holy week. Many of our churches are busy making palm frond crosses or preparing for a Palm Sunday procession around the church.  Stores are full of Easter eggs and hot crossed buns, trying to divert our attention from the real meaning of Easter to their commercialized version of it.  And how many of us are sucked in?  What is the focus of your thoughts as we head towards Holy week – is it on the life, death and resurrection of Christ or is it on the upcoming Easter egg hunt and your new spring outfit? Most of us know that this day commemorates Jesus triumphant procession into Jerusalem on donkey’s back but few of us are aware of the deeper and very subversive implications of this event.

Palm Sunday gives a preview of  Jesus Messiahship and the advent of God’s kingdom of wholeness and abundance.   What many of us don’t realize is that  there were actually two processions into Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday morning – one that symbolized the Roman culture of Jesus day and the other Jesus proclaiming his upside down kingdom.

According to Borg and Crossan’s important book The Last Week (2006), it is probable that there were two processions going on into Jerusalem on that day. In the year 30, Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor assigned to Judea and Jerusalem.  It had become the custom of the governors to live outside Jerusalem, but it was also their custom to come with their soldiers to Jerusalem for Passover.  To provide a very visible and powerful Roman military presence at that volatile time, to prevent any potential uprising, for there are already been uprisings and many crucifixions.

His procession would have come from the west at the head of a column of imperial cavalry and soldiers – an impressive and lavish procession specially designed to impress the people with a visual display of imperial power: cavalry on horses, foot soldiers, leather armor, helmets, weapons, banners, golden eagles mounted on poles, sun glinting on metal and gold.

On the other side of the city, down from the Mount of Olives in the north came Jesus and his humble procession – no pomp, no ceremony, dressed simply like the people, riding on the back of a donkey and followed by his disciples drawn from amongst the peasants and the common people.  I can imagine the lepers he had healed and the once blind man dancing and rejoicing with him.  And there is Lazarus with Mary and Martha a living symbol of the triumph that this procession represents.

Here was the truly triumphant procession and the true rejoicing of the season.  Jesus and his friends were greeted with cheers and shouts by crowds  all along his path. “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna!”

Much of what Jesus’ life and teaching was about was the conflict of the kingdom of God with the empire of Rome.  Theologically and politically.  The Romans believed their emperor was to be worshipped as the son of God, the savior of humankind.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem and his followers acknowledged him as Lord and Messiah, this was not only a personal theological statement but a political statement as well.  Jesus’ belief in a liberating, inclusive, non-violent, peace-seeking kingdom of God was over and against the oppressive, greedy, elite-loving, peasant-starving kingdom of Rome.  No wonder his was so angry with the Temple hierarchy – the chief priest, the elders and the scribes –  who had become servants of the empire and not of the kingdom of God.

Jesus ride into Jerusalem was obviously headed for a collision with the powerful Roman empire –  collision that would cost his life and change history forever. Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem may have begun with crowds shouting Hosanna but it ends with Good Friday and the apparent triumph of the powers of the Roman Empire and of Satan.  It does not end with a gold crown but with a crown of thorns.  Jesus triumphal entry ends with his willingness to take into himself all the pain and suffering of our world so that together we can celebrate the beginning of a new procession on Easter Sunday – a procession that leads us into God’s banquet feast and the wonder of God’s eternal world.

The question for all of us as we approach this Palm Sunday and enter into the celebration of Easter is: Where is our allegiance?  Where do we find ourselves in these pictures?  Are we part of that ragamuffin discipleship band following Jesus fully aware that we are on a collision course with the values of our secular culture? Are we some of the misguided enthusiasts, cheering our own idea of a  messiah, that looks more like the Roman emperor than the humble Jesus?   Are we enarmoured of an idea that has little to do with what Jesus has come to teach? Do we only want to follow a Jesus when we think he promises health and happiness here and now.  Have we so misunderstood him and his purpose and that we are ready to turn against him when he turns out not to be who we thought he was?

Perhaps however, we’re not part of Jesus’ procession at all.  Perhaps we’re standing at the other gate, cheering for the symbols of empire.  Dazzled by power, attracted to wealth, wanting to identify with the victors, not the vanquished, hoping to be counted as one of the elites of our time.

Actually most of us are probably part of both processions – wanting to follow this Jesus whom we find so don’t fully understand but also caught up in the excitement of Easter egg hunts and spring fashion displays.

And the beauty is that Jesus, in his humanity, sees and knows all of us. . . the flawed humanity that surrounds him. . . the flawed humanity of each of us. . . and he sees it and he forgives it, and loves us, and gives his blessing to all of us as he clops along the dusty road toward his confrontation with power, his time of trial, his abandonment, his death.

Let us enter the city with God today,

And sing hosannas to our king,

Let us turn our backs on the powers that grasp and control,

And open our hearts to the son of God riding on a donkey.

Let us join his parade,

Surrounded by outcasts and prostitutes, the blind and the leper.

Let us follow the one who brought freedom and peace,

And walk in solidarity with the abandoned and oppressed. 

Let us shout for joy at Christ’s coming and join his disciples,

Welcoming the broken, healing the sick, dining with outcasts.

Let us touch and see as God draws near,

Riding in triumph towards the Cross

Palm Sunday Prayer

Palm Sunday draws near and my thoughts are focused on Jesus entry into Jerusalem and the even more amazing entry into our hearts.  I prayers this morning were inspired by these reflections and my growing passion to follow Jesus with all my heart and soul and being.

Let us enter the city with God today

Let us sing hosanna to our king

To the son of God riding on a donkey

With shepherds and prostitutes,

With the blind and the leper

With the abandoned and oppressed

Let us shout for joy at Christ’s coming

And follow the One who welcomes the sinner and dines with the outcast

Let us touch and see as God draws near

Riding in Triumph towards the Cross

Jan Hynes, Entering the city

More of Jan Hynes Holy week images here

April Synchroblog – Some Great Posts

Yesterday I wrote a post on Palm Sunday as part of a Synchroblog entitled Do You Live Under A Rock. Here is a list of all the entries so far.

Phil Wyman at Square No More –  Apocalyptic fervor spurs benevolent giving

Marta Layton at Marta’s Mathoms – Getting Out From Behind The Rock

Mike Victorino at  Simply A Night Owl – Crawling Out From Under A Rock

John Paul Todd at E4Unity – Still Asleep In the Light

Patrick Oden at Ravens – A Resurrection

Brambonius at Brambonius’ blog in english – hiding the Resurrection life like a candle under a bucket?

George Elerick at The Love Revolution – (for)getting the resurrection

Liz Dyer at Grace Rules – I Will Answer That Question In A Minute, But First, I Want To Talk About Jesus

Jeff Goins at Jeff Goins Writer – Resurrection

Tammy Carter at Blessing the Beloved – Rock and a Hard Place

Kathy Escobar at the carnival in my head – little miracles

Christen Hansel at Greener Grass – Resurrection Rhythm

Alan Knox at the assembling of the church – Living The Resurrected Life

Christine Sine at Godspace – Palm Sunday Is Coming But What Does It Mean

 

Palm Sunday is Coming But What Does it Mean?

This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday and many of our churches are busy making palm frond crosses or preparing for a walk around our churches as a start to the day.  Most of us know that this day commemorates Jesus triumphant procession into Jerusalem on donkey’s back but few of us are aware of the deeper implications of this event.  Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem may have begun with crowds shouting Hosanna but it ends with Good Friday and the apparent triumph of the powers of the Roman Empire and of Satan.  It does not end with a gold crown but with a crown of thorns.  Jesus triumphal entry ends with his willingness to take into himself all the pain and suffering of our world so that together we can celebrate the beginning of a new procession on Easter Sunday – a procession that leads us into God’s banquet feast and the wonder of God’s eternal world.

Over the last couple of years I have written several posts that talk about the subversive nature of this event.  I have reread these this morning and realized how much I needed this reminder.  So I thought that I would adapt them here for all of us to remember once again and meditate on the meaning of this event.  This is also written for the April synchroblog Do You Live Under A Rock

Jesusmafa.com Palm Sunday Procession

The beginning of the Easter celebration is just over a week away and stores are full of Easter eggs and decorations to help us celebrate by diverting our attention from the real meaning of Easter to their commercialized version of it.  And how many of us are sucked in?  What is the focus of your celebrations for this Holy week – is it on the life, death and resurrection of Christ or is it on the upcoming Easter egg hunt and that new spring outfit that you intend to debut on Easter Sunday morning?

Our Easter celebration should begin with Palm Sunday a celebration in which we excitedly enter into a preview of  Jesus announcing his Messiahship and the advent of God’s kingdom of wholeness and abundance.   What many of us don’t realize is that  there were actually two processions into Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday morning – one that symbolized the Roman culture of Jesus day and the other Jesus proclaiming his upside down kingdom.

In the year 30, Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor assigned to Judea and Jerusalem.  It had become the custom of the governors to live outside Jerusalem, but it was also their custom to come with their soldiers to Jerusalem for Passover.  To provide a very visible and powerful Roman military presence at that volatile time, to prevent any potential uprising, for there are already been uprisings and many crucifixions.

His procession would have come from the west at the head of a column of imperial cavalry and soldiers – an impressive and lavish procession specially designed to impress the people with a visual display of imperial power: cavalry on horses, foot soldiers, leather armor, helmets, weapons, banners, golden eagles mounted on poles, sun glinting on metal and gold.

On the other side of the city, down from the Mount of Olives in the north came Jesus and his humble procession – no pomp, no ceremony, dressed simply like the people, riding on the back of a donkey and followed by his disciples drawn from amongst the peasants and the common people.  I can imagine the lepers he had healed and the once blind man dancing and rejoicing with him.  And there is Lazarus with Mary and Martha a living symbol of the triumph that this procession represents.

Here was the truly triumphant procession and the true rejoicing of the season.  Jesus and his friends were greeted with cheers and shouts by crowds  all along his path. “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna!”

Much of what Jesus’ life and teaching was about was the conflict of the kingdom of God with the empire of Rome.  Theologically and politically.  The Romans believed their emperor was to be worshipped as the son of God, the savior of humankind.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem and his followers acknowledged him as Lord and Messiah, this was not only a personal theological statement but a political statement as well.  Jesus’ belief in a liberating, inclusive, non-violent, peace-seeking kingdom of God was over and against the oppressive, greedy, elite-loving, peasant-starving kingdom of Rome.  No wonder his was so angry with the Temple hierarchy – the chief priest, the elders and the scribes –  who had become servants of the empire and not of the kingdom of God.

Jesus ride into Jerusalem was obviously headed for a collision with the powerful Roman empire –  collision that would cost his life and change history forever.

The question for all of us as we approach this Palm Sunday and enter into the celebration of Easter is: Where is our allegiance?   Where do we find ourselves in these pictures?  Are we part of that ragamuffin discipleship band following Jesus fully aware that we are on a collision course with the values of our secular culture? Are we some of the misguided enthusiasts, cheering our own idea of a  messiah, that looks more like the Roman emperor than the humble Jesus?   Are we enarmoured of an idea that has little to do with what Jesus has come to teach? Do we only want to follow a Jesus when we think he promises health and happiness here and now.  Have we so misunderstood him and his purpose and that we are ready to turn against him when he turns out not to be who we thought he was?

Perhaps however, we’re not part of Jesus’ procession at all.  Perhaps we’re standing at the other gate, cheering for the symbols of empire.  Dazzled by power, attracted to wealth, wanting to identify with the victors, not the vanquished, hoping to be counted as one of the elites of our time.

Actually most of us are probably part of both processions – wanting to follow this Jesus whom we find so don’t fully understand but also caught up in the excitement of Easter egg hunts and spring fashion displays.

And the beauty is that Jesus, in his humanity, sees and knows all of us. . . the flawed humanity that surrounds him. . . the flawed humanity of each of us. . . and he sees it and he forgives it, and loves us, and gives his blessing to all of us as he clops along the dusty road toward his confrontation with power, his time of trial, his abandonment, his death.