I love the Agnus Day comic. If you have not seen it before, take some time to check it out. It is a lectionary based weekly comic with two sheep. The one for this week is about, of course, Palm Sunday:
Palm/Passion Sunday, at least as I often end up doing it, is a bit schizophrenic. We start outside with the announcement, “Blessed Is He Who Comes In The Name Of The Lord!! Hosannah In The Highest!” the blessing of the palm branches, the reading of the Gospel text describing the entrance into Jerusalem and the waving of the palm branches as we parade into the sanctuary singing… or at least attempting to sing…All Glory Laud And Honor. Yes, I, too, love a parade!
But after we get inside and turn to the texts for the day, we have the long Passion narrative which is quite different from the triumphal image of Jesus riding into town as though coming for a coronation. We don’t want to think about the crucifixion right now. We want to sing about Jesus as Redeemer King! Can’t we just skip all that Friday business? After all, we are the post resurrection church, right? We look to the empty cross; the reminder of Jesus’ defeat of death forever! Do we HAVE to go through all this messy and upsetting crucifixion stuff?
But the truth is that on this day we are called to think about just that very thing. We are called to remember. We are called to see the triumphal entry into Jerusalem as Jesus heads to his coronation not on a golden throne with a jeweled crown but with nails a crown of thorns. Surely, it is the empty cross we look to and that is a good thing. But the only reason that empty cross matters at all is because it has not always been empty. Soon, Jesus will pick up the cross and go to the Hill of the Skull. He will climb willingly upon that cross, bearing on his back the sins of the whole wide world, filling it with his oh so very human flesh and blood body and dying a true and painful death. For us.
So let us begin our journey through Holy Week.