A reflection for Palm/Passion Sunday March 28, 2010 by the Rev. Dr. Kate Hennessy Luke 23:1-49
“It all seems to change so suddenly….from shouts of hosanna and praise to ‘Crucify him, Crucify him.’ In one short week he goes from being the hero to the most scorned and lowly of victims…dying in shame on the cross on the hill. But we must remember….this was no victim of crowd mentality run riot. This was Jesus…God incarnate….this was his choice, this was his gift. This was the God who loved us enough to become us. Who as theologian Brookes Ramsey says, became like us so could we could learn to be more like God. So we watch him this week, this final week of his life here on earth…this God of ours who loved us enough to chose this life, and now chooses this death….all for us. And as we watch him go through his final days, as he speaks his final words, does his last acts on this earth, makes one last ultimate choice for love of us…we watch to see what we can learn from this gift of his about being more like God….and in doing so perhaps we too can learn to be more human as well. Amen.”
Yes, that really is all I have to say from two pulpits on this very important Sunday in the church year. There is already so much here, so many words, so much ritual and story, so much truth…..do I really need to overwhelm it with my thoughts?
With as much clarity of liturgical recall as I have for much of my very churched childhood, I don’t seem to remember much about this particular Sunday. I have a vague recollection of making little palm crosses and of the interminable length of the Passion reading. But somehow there was no link, no connection between the two….if one was even made. Maybe in that day and time we separated the two…it was Palm or Passion. Impressionable as I was with all the things of church, I cannot remember.
Holy Week, however, is a different story. Holy Week left strong and stark memories from an early age. Weekly Stations of the Cross every single Lent from Kindergarten on prepared me and left no doubt in my mind of the great suffering and magnitude of the gift given in the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross. By the time we ended the last service on Good Friday it would seem as if the very earth were in tune with what had transpired. In my memory, even the sky was always clouded as we left church after the service. Over time my theology and understanding of why the sacrifice was made, why the gift was given has changed. And so has my response…at some level. But at another, far more visceral, and I would say perhaps deeper and spiritually richer level, when I hear described those last events in Jesus’ life, or see in my mind the images they conjure, I am humbled and astonished by such flagrant love. Something in me seems to come to stillness before such undeserved amazing grace. Something in my heart responds with only “yes.”