Palm Sunday – 2023

Hosanna! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. Those words will ring out this Sunday as we walk into church with a palm frond in hand. Will you march about the parking lot? My father had some donkeys and he would sometimes bring one in to lead the procession outside. I had a parishioner who had access to a donkey and brought it for that purpose one year in Roseburg when I preached there. The thing brayed as we all entered the church. It was memorable.

The observant worshiper who follows the western Christian rite will notice that the words are familiar. In fact, they are incorporated into the Sanctus, combined with the song of the Cherubim in Isaiah’s call vision in chapter 6 of his book. Holy Week, the events of this Sunday through Easter, form the fount and source of all our Christian worship. The prayers we speak often end with the formula “who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit.” They are rooted in Easter. Every Eucharist brings us back to that upper room where Jesus broke bread and promised his presence to the disciples in this meal. Every absolution takes us back to the cross of Good Friday. For the preacher this can be daunting. But let the structure carry you on this day. You do not need to bring something new to this. Remind people of what has always been true and which is instantiated in the liturgical life which animates your parish.

On Palm Sunday notice that it is the holy God who rides that humble beast into the city of Jerusalem, the same one who comes in the humility of bread and wine to our lives. He comes not to condemn but to save (John 3:17). He gave Himself to this world as He gives Himself to us in this sacrament. The great tension of God’s holiness and divinity come into stark contrast on that cross. Turn your hearer’s eyes to behold the grace which brought Jesus to ride that donkey and die for us.

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