Monday, March 17, 2008
Well, despite the disappointment of no palms in church at Lake Murray as well as no reading of the Scriptures regarding the Triumphal Entry, I still enjoyed Palm Sunday greatly as the opening of my favorite time of the liturgical year: Holy Week. During this week I try to focus on Jesus' final teachings to His disciples, on His humility in washing the disciples' feet, on His institution of the Lord's Supper during Passover, on His agony in Gethsemane, on His trial before the authorities, on His suffering as He was beaten and scourged almost to the point of death, on the brutal mockery He endured for our sakes, upon the sorrow and passion of His crucifixion, and finally on the joy of His miraculous Resurrection. The fulfilling of Old Testament Scripture always strikes me so fully during this week -- so many details foretold hundreds of years ahead of the last week of Jesus' life.
In the 21st chapter of the Gospel accoding to Saint Matthew, we read:
"Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'"
"The disciples ... brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and He sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before Him and that followed Him were shouting, 'Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!'" (vv. 5-9).
In liturgical churches, the palms used in Palm Sunday's services are bent and folded into crosses and then saved by being put behind icons or framed pictures of Jesus until just before the next Ash Wednesday when they are burned and the ashes used to anoint the foreheads of those attending the Ash Wednesday services the next year. I love how the palms come full circle: the Holy Week from one year coming into the beginning of the next year's Lent. As Benedict states in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, "There's a double meaning in that."
I missed any sense of liturgy in the Palm Sunday service at Lake Murray yesterday; our worship pastor mentioned briefly that it was Palm Sunday, but we didn't sing the praise song "Hosanna in the Highest." No palms. Just the "rugged cross" in the sanctuary draped with a purple cloth and a crown of thorns -- much better than nothing, I admit. We usually have palms along the front of the auditorium and at least some songs that mention "Hosanna" at least. And some day I'd love to have someone stand up to read one of the descriptions of the Triumphal Entry from the gospels. Oh well -- perhaps next year.
My week will be very busy with Holy Week services: setting up the Biblical Stations of the Cross on Tuesday at Lake Murray for prayer Wednesday-Friday, an instructional Seder with the Anglicans on Wednesday, Maundy Thursday services at Victoria House again with the Anglicans, an ecumenical Stations of the Cross at noon in Alpine on Good Friday plus a Good Friday evening service at Lake Murray, and a Vigil service at Victoria House on Saturday evening before Resurrection Sunday services at Lake Murray. On Sunday we'll be studying the crucifixion and Resurrection in Matthew in William's Sunday School class plus a hopefully joyful and exuberant celebration of the Resurrection during second service.
I sincerely hope that we'll at least be singing "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" at Lake Murray or I'll froth at the mouth. (Okay, not really, but I will be horribly disappointed!) After church we'll be driving up to my parents' cabin on Mount Laguna to celebrate Easter and T's 13th birthday with family.
A blessed Holy Week to you and yours, dear readers. May we all experience the sorrow of Christ's sacrifical death for us and the joy of His glorious Resurrection that saved all people, past, present, and future.