Today’s Word: ‘Revolution’ as in… Palm Sunday: the revolution begins.
I grew up absolutely loving Palm Sunday. In my home congregation the whole morning was amazing! I was endlessly fascinated with the ancient stories and the traditions connected to this day.
Palm Sunday was festive! I had new clothes, dad wore a suit and tie, my mom wore a dress she had created. She also wore a hat. The only thing better than Palm Sunday was Easter Sunday – bookends to arguably the most important several days in the life of the faith community. Imagine this scene: the stained-glass windows reverberating as music from the electronic Baldwin organ fills the sanctuary, giving new meaning to the phrase “pulling out all of the stops!” There were loads of palm branches on hand for people to wave during the singing of all five verses of “All Glory, Laud, and Honor.” Kids of all ages processed down the aisle and around the sides of the pews shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” It was so much fun! Such a parade!
After the Palm Sunday worship service, people lingered and talked; adults enjoyed coffee and doughnuts. Kids drank weak lemonade out of Dixie Cups while they safely played outside on the church lawn on this sunny morning. I only remember it being sunny. Selective memory on my part, it was the Pacific Northwest after all. But I can’t ever remember Palm Sunday being anything other than sunny. In my memory, Palm Sunday was warm, safe, festive, joyous.
But the original Palm Sunday was a lot different. It was far from fun, it wasn’t at all safe. It was aggressive, hostile, terrifying, highly charged and deeply political. To understand that, we have to read the original stories. If the next few entries of “Today’s Word” are going to make any sense, I’m going to have to ask you to spend a few moments reading the story from Mark’s Gospel; chapter 11, verses 1 through 10.
“1 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’ ” 4 They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5 some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9 Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”